Talk Business Magazine October 2014

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W W W . T A L K B U S I N E S S M A G A Z I N E . C O . U K



October 2014 £4.50

MAKE YOURSELF HEARD How to craft the perfect press release

FROM CSS TO YOUR BEST GUESS The A-Z guide to what web developer’s jargon means



Ortis from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show

Founder of Gocompare and successful British businesswoman, Hayley Parsons reveals her secrets of success


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INSIDE 11 Editor’s letter 12 Contributors 14 Letters 17 News & events 20 Question of the month Would you use a payday lender? TALK SUCCESS 22 There’s no comparison Founder of Gocompare,

Hayley Parsons reveals her secrets of success

22 30 Mumtrepreneurs Mums in business discuss the

TALK MARKETING 67 It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white (or male or female) Kimberley Davis 69 Attention seekers Get your press release heard 70 Great British Business Show preview TALK PEOPLE 75 Telling us what we want to hear Dr Deborah Benson 77 Striking the balance Ensuring gender parity in

your business

79 80 83 86

Get some much needed R&R HR insight

Secret diary of an entrepreneur Williams Automobiles

The grass isn’t always greener Lee McQueen

challenges of balancing children and work

32 35 37

Tech tips for mumtrepreneurs Up-and-coming

88 Is your workplace gender biased? Take our quiz to find out

Book reviews

TALK LIFESTYLE 91 We love... after work drinks 92 Hotspots: Newcastle and Durham Locations for business stays,

Breeze Software

TALK FINANCE 39 The funding expert Improving your credit score 41 Is London too dominant? 44 Growth Accelerator Take off the brakes with help

from a mentor

46 Case Study: Rosa’s Thai cafe 49 Charging interest on invoices Adam Aiken TALK STRATEGY 53 You get what you pay for Rich With 55 Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder How to improve employee


58 61 65

Is owning a business property a liability? Finding the needle in the haystack

Understanding web developer jargon

TALK FRANCHISE 117 Franchise news 120 The fast food myth Dynamis dispels the usual


legal questions

TALK ADVICE 123 Sales doctor Your questions answered 125 Work hard, play bard The benefits of Warwickshire 129 Legally speaking Wright Hassell answers your 130 You find, they’ll seek Recruitment advice

Set sail for success

109 I’ve got an app for that Our favourite business apps 111 Have you heard? Top 10 unknown apps 113 From CSS to your best guess

Setting a vision - Marielena Sabatier

eats and meets

94 98

Leave the office behind Holiday Hypermarket

Get autumn awesome Autumn knitwear

TALK TECHNOLOGY 101 Teach a man to fish Tech Stars’ Jon Bradford 103 What’s in a name? Choose the perfect domain name 106 Tech review The Gadget Show’s Ortis Deley

??!! 135 135 No comprende? Intricacies of foreign trading 139 Sick as a start-up Five deadly business diseases 142 Don’t fake it How to build trust 144 Talk Business directory TALK OPINION 146 He said/she said Celeb opinions from the web


Interview top tips

Building smarter networks Powwownow

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Scan this QR code to subscribe to Talk Business


Luke Garner


Louise Salisbury George Shipman




Trystan Hurley


Circulation/subscriptions: UK £40, EUROPE £60, REST OF WORLD £95 Circulation enquiries: Aston Greenlake Publishing Ltd T: 0203 617 4680 Talk Business is published 12 times a year by Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. No part of Talk Business may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written consent of the editor. Talk Business will make every effort to return picture material, but it is sent at owner’s risk. Due to the nature of the printing process, images can be subject to a variation of up to 15 per cent, therefore Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited cannot be held responsible for such variation. The opinions expressed by guests in this magazine are not necessarily the views held by Talk Business magazine, its publishers and its owners.

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Size doesn’t matter


icknames such as “The White Death” aren’t given lightly. There’s usually a pretty incredible back-story to such a moniker, and in the case of Simo Häyhä, there’s no exception. During the Winter War (19391940), as Stalin’s Russian army attempted to invade Finland, farmer, Häyhä took to the forests in -40 degree C temperatures to defend his homeland. Armed with a Mosin-Nagant rifle and dressed in white camouflage, he quickly earned a reputation for himself as a top marksman. Despite standing at just five foot three inches, by the end of the conflict, Simo set the record for the highest number of sniper kills - 505 - by anyone in a major conflict, ever. His skills were so good that the Russian army soon mounted missions with the sole purpose of killing “The White Death”, such was their fear of this deadly man. The Soviet’s efforts to kill Häyhä included counter-snipers and artillery strikes, which he managed to repel time and time again. Eventually though, they finally got to him. In 1940, Häyhä was shot in his lower left jaw by a Russian soldier. He was picked up by fellow soldiers who said “half his cheek was missing”, but astonishingly he did not die, such was his fighting spirit. As with many that achieve success, the Finnish sniper had his own way of doing things that helped him to gain an advantage. Häyhä preferred to use iron sights rather than telescopic sights to present a smaller target for the enemy (a sniper must raise his head higher when using a telescopic sight). He also kept snow in his mouth whilst

sniping, to reduce the chances of his steamy breath giving away his position in the bitterly cold air. As an entrepreneur or owner of a start-up business, life can often feel the same way - being attacked from all sides by bigger forces, seemingly outnumbered, having to defeat obstacle after obstacle just to survive. But those who succeed in the long run show innovation, determination and an unwavering belief in their cause, similar to Häyhä. Even though sometimes we may sustain injuries and have setbacks along the way, we must soldier on and keep striving towards our hopes, dreams and beliefs. Ultimately, with the right attitude, we can overcome obstacles put in our way and achieve the success we deserve. (Whilst many of you may feel alone in your endeavours, it is important to remember that there is help out there for those who seek it. In particular, the Government’s Growth Accelerator scheme, which provides business mentors for startups and entrepreneurs. Find out more on page 44).

Contact: luke.garner@ Tweet us @talkbusinessmag 11 29

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The EXPERTS Find out more about our contributors to Talk Business this month

Geoff Hoyle

is lead web designer at unified business communications and IT service provider, Daisy Group. Having joined the company in 2012, he has been responsible for developing and redesigning the business’ primary website, with a focus on improving its usability. Geoff has more than six years’ experience in web development, both B2B and B2C, and he is now part of an online team that is responsible for the continual improvement of the website’s user experience and conversion rate. As part of his role, Geoff also specialises in creating engaging web apps.

Read his column on understanding the A-Z of web developers’ jargon on page 113.

Alan Ritchie

is managing director at PC World Business, the UK’s only nationally branded technology retailer with a dedicated business team to support organisational IT requirements. He is also managing director, retail and property for UK & Ireland for Currys PC World, the market-leading retail brands in multi-channel electricals and computing. Previously, Alan was retail managing director with Somerfield, heavily shaping its convenience food business. Turn to page 32 to read Alan’s top tips for mumtrepreneur tech.

Kimberley Davis is a highly accomplished marketing expert, author, business mentor, and speaker. She is founder of Sarsaparilla Marketing – the name comes from Kimberley’s fascination with the 1940’s; the music, the Hollywood glamour, the swinging dance moves, and the optimism. It helps established businesses, SMEs, start-ups, business owners and employees, and has a very different approach to marketing. Strong opinions and a determination to restore credibility to an unregulated industry have earned Kimberly a reputation as “the antimarketing marketer”. Discover Kimberley’s controversial views about sexism in the workplace on page 67.

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If you’d like to send us your thoughts about Talk Business, or anything else that is happening on the SME scene, just get in touch: email: snail mail: Editor, Aston Greenlake Publishing Limited, William Robinson Buildings, 3 Woodfield Terrace, Stansted Mountfitchet, Essex, CM24 8AJ.

This month our readers are talking about their animal alter-egos and Scotland’s decision to stay with Great Britain



Dear Talk Business Magazine,

Hi Talk Business,

I absolutely loved the article “Animal instinct” in the September issue. It was great fun to do the quiz to find out which animal’s management style I had, and the answer of leopard was so accurate. We have had a few hardships over the last few months in the office, and so I have spent the last week trying to be a bit more like the chameleon as the article suggested. I have definitely left my comfort zone, but have had great responses from my team - the drive to complete tasks has amplified, and everyone’s positivity increased. All in all, the work output is on the rise and everyone is happier, a win-win situation in my eyes!

I’m so glad that the Scottish people saw the benefits of staying as a union and rejecting independence. It would have been a disaster, not just above - but also below the border, to have gone our separate ways. Currency would have been weakened, business would have pulled out of Scotland, and trade would have suffered. Thankfully we can now move forward together and fix the issues that led to this scenario in the first place.

Jan Maidstone

Luke Coventry

It’s great to hear that you’ve experienced so much success with a positive change! Anyone who wants to find out what their animal management style is, just like Jan did, can view our September issue (and other back issues) on our website

of Letter

the month

Congratulations to Jan, who wins our ‘Letter of the month’ competition, and bags herself a Toshiba Portégé Z30 laptop worth £900! Keep your letters coming in to us at Talk Business magazine.


of the month Amberley @Amberley_Marie @TalkBusinessMag @annodistillers seems it’s too late! :-) Our Anno gin competition winner from September, Amberley, worries that we’ll take a sneaky swig of her prize before it arrives. We didn’t, but it was so good the temptation was hard to resist! Tweet us @Talkbusinessmag

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NEWS Latest stories


Different name,

same game Nearly half of Britain’s SMEs see no difference in the Big four banks


early half (47%) of Britain’s SMEs do not differentiate between the ‘Big Four’ High Street Banks and only one in ten believe that the services they offer are better than those available from new ‘challenger’ banks such as Santander, Handelsbanken and Metro. An independent YouGov survey commissioned by invoice and supply chain finance company Platform Black also found that perceptions of the major banks

deteriorated the smaller the company is. Only 7% of businesses in their first year of trading or with an annual turnover of less than £1 million believed that the traditional banks offer a better service than the challengers. The picture is not much better further up the scale with only 15% of companies with an annual turnover of £10 million or more considering the major banks’ offering to be superior. Commenting on the results of the survey, Platform Black’s co-

founder Louise Beaumont said: “There is a revolution taking place in the banking and finance sector. The ‘Big Four’ may still control 85% of SME sector accounts, and 90% of lending, but awareness of what is available from challenger banks and providers of alternative business finance, such as Platform Black, is growing rapidly and the trend is probably irreversible.” Contact:

Lack of manners leading to high staff turnover among SMEs Reports suggest a simple “thank you” can improve productivity by up to 44%


new report into the importance of two simple words shows that one in five people work for a boss who never says “thank you”. The “Power of Thank You” Report, produced by One4all Rewards, to discover the effectiveness of rewarding staff shows that, as well as being impolite, not saying “thank you” enough can seriously undermine the success of a business. The report shows that business

leaders who do say “thank you” have more motivated staff, higher rates of staff retention, find it easier to recruit and have better reputations. However, 20% of employees say they never receive any form of thanks from their employer. Despite the importance of making employees feel appreciated, 75% of workers feel that they don’t receive sufficient gratitude from their boss for the work that they do. Commenting on the research, UK

managing director of One4all rewards, Declan Byrne, commented: “In a busy working environment it’s easy for bosses to forget to say “thank you” as often as their employees would like them to, but failure to correct this will severely impact on performance and profitability.” “There is evidence that a simple “thank you”, delivered in the right way, can boost performance by as much as 44%”. To find out more visit apply-growth-vouchers 17 17

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NEWS Latest stories


It’s a man’s (and woman’s) world Some 44% of working mums would consider sharing their maternity leave with their partner


he number of women who would consider sharing their leave when the new shared parenting legislation comes in next year has risen by 3% since last year. The survey of over 2,390 working parents, sponsored by McDonald’s Restaurants Ltd, found that the increase may in part be due to a rising number of women who are the main breadwinners in their families - over 17% of women who were living with a partner say they are the main breadwinner. Many women said the economic

situation was affecting how long they took for maternity leave. Some 46% had returned to work early due to the recession or cost of living, while some 10% only took between one and three months’ maternity leave. Other findings from the survey include: • 56% of women say they earn less pro-rata than they did before having children. • 49% say employers discriminate more against women in the current climate • 60% think they have to work harder than men due to unconscious bias

Gillian Nissim, founder of, said: “It is interesting to note the appetite for shared parenting in the light of expectations that initial take-up will not be significant. This perhaps reflects a growing awareness among couples of the link between equality in the workplace and at home. It’s vital that policy supports parents in having greater choice over how they balance work and family life.” Contact:

DATES FOR THE DIARY Sterling Integrity 15th October Kingsholm Rugby Stadium Gloucester 23rd October Puma Hotel, Oxford Business Junction Networking Events 2 October 2014 City Business Library Guildhall, Aldermanbury London, EC2V 7HH 9 October 2014 Bumpkin South Kensington 102 Old Brompton Road South Kensington, SW7 3RD

14 October 2014 The Bloomsbury Ballroom Victoria House ,Bloomsbury Square, London, WC1B 4DA 16 October 2014 Benares Restaurant & Bar 12a Berkeley Square House Berkeley Square Mayfair London, W1J 6BS National Franchise Expo 3-4 October NEC, Birmingham IP Expo 8-9 October Excel, London

Successful Selling Expo 16 October Ricoh Arena, Coventry Adtech London 21-22 October Olympia, London Kent2020 Vision 22 October Kent Event Centre The Business show 2014 27-28 November 2014 Olympia, London www.greatbritishbusinessshow.

18 October 2014 18

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Would you ever consider using a payday lender as a last resort to save your business?

Each month we ask a selection of business leaders their views on an aspect of business. This month, we’re asking about the divisive issue of payday lenders

Personally, I would never use a payday lender for the business. I am in the camp who have serious issues with regards to the lending ethics of such organisations. For any business owner, funding your enterprise is a critical consideration. Nowadays there are many strong peer-to-peer lending sites around, which are there to support businesses on fair and reasonable terms (should your banks not be able to). VIKAS SHAH, OWNER & CEO OF SWISCOT GROUP

Payday lenders are licensed loan sharks, and I would rather shut up shop than make things worse by using them.

THE NUMBERS GAME Here's what the rest of you thought: Yes, I’d use a payday lender

21% 79% No, I wouldn’t even consider it


My first instinct is to say no, I would never use a payday lender, as they almost inevitably stall a problem rather than solve it. But thankfully I’ve never been in a position where the future of my business depended on a payday loan. If I am forced to imagine a scenario where all my hard work is about to come crashing down, a fight or flight moment, then maybe I’d be forced to think differently. NICK LAHEY-BEAN, OWNER OF ABACUS REAL ESTATE

No, the prohibitive interest rates would cripple the business. A more sensible source would be 0% interest credit cards, but only for a very short term. BECKY CLARK, CEO OF NETDESPATCH

Payday lending has eye watering APR’s, but those are a yardstick for long term lending, and for a very short term cash flow injection they could be a solution for very short term funding. I would only consider it only if repayment was cast iron and no other options were available. WILLIAM BUIST, FOUNDER XTEN CLUB AND ABELARD CONSULTING


We ask readers “Is it ever okay to use sexuality to close an important deal or make a sale?”

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SUCCESS Face on the cover

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SUCCESS Face on the cover

There’s no comparison Hayley Parsons is the founder and chief executive of – one of the country’s best-known price comparison websites. Adam Aiken spoke to her and tried to find out some of the secrets of her success WHAT WAS YOUR BACKGROUND BEFORE YOU STRUCK GOLD WITH GOCOMPARE.COM? I left school as soon as I could and started working in the insurance industry, and I have been in the industry for my whole career. Although I began with an insurance broker, I joined Admiral in the early 1990s when it was launching. I spent 14 fantastic years working for Admiral, and I was given the opportunity to work on a number of exciting start-up projects. I’ll always be grateful for that. One of the projects I took on at Admiral was the project that eventually became We started work on that concept in 1999 and we took it to market in early 2002. But I worked on a number of different start-ups at Admiral, and I just got to the point when I felt it was time to do something for myself.

BUT WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO GO FOR A PRICE COMPARISON PRODUCT? It got to the point in the insurance industry where all that mattered was getting to the top of the price list. The only thing comparison sites showed was the price

I care very much about the customer and what’s right for the customer. I felt at the time that neither nor were necessarily putting the customer first – nor were the insurance companies. It had got to the point in the insurance industry that all that mattered was getting to the top of the price list. The only thing that the comparison sites showed was the price. So all the insurance companies needed to do was strip out the level of cover from their policies to get to the top of the list, and all that customers were doing was buying the policies on price. I didn’t think that was good enough, and I realised that price comparison sites needed to do more. So the thinking behind Gocompare was to 23 23

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SUCCESS Face on the cover

that was less a risk and more just the personal sacrifice of what I was leaving behind. But once I’d made the decision to do it, I never wavered. I knew that if it all went wrong I would be able to find another job, so I didn’t think it was a huge risk. What was also hard was having a team come with me and knowing I was responsible for their livelihoods from then on. It was a huge responsibility and I had that cold sweat come over me when I handed my notice in – two friends were coming with me and I remember looking at them and thinking: “I’m responsible for these two guys for the rest of my life.”

WHAT LESSONS HAVE YOU LEARNT? launch a comparison service that allowed customers to buy the right products at the right price. Obviously, price is always a factor, but customers also have to understand the level of the insurance cover they are buying. If they want to buy the cheapest policy with all the cover stripped out, that’s absolutely fine, but they need to know that that’s what they’re buying. So I had two drivers – the time was right for me personally to move on, and the market was in a position where it was ready to move on.

DID YOU REALISE HOW BIG THE MARKET WOULD BECOME? One of my main jobs at when we were launching, was going out to talk to insurance companies and brokers, and trying to convince them this was going to become the new distribution model. I truly believed it was the future, although trying to

convince them that this was the case was probably the toughest job I’ve had in my life. It was about perseverance. I kept knocking on their doors to try to persuade them I was right. We also tried to make it so they had nothing to lose by giving it a go. We developed technology that meant we did all the work at our end so the insurers didn’t need to put in any of their own IT resources – and if they didn’t gain any sales then it wouldn’t cost them anything. The first major brand to embrace what we were doing and start paying us some income was Norwich Union. If Norwich Union hadn’t made that decision, would we be here today? Who knows?

SO WHAT WERE THE RISKS YOU FACED? I loved every second while I was working for Admiral, so the hardest thing for me was leaving everybody whom I had spent 14 years working with. I was leaving people that meant the world to me, but I suppose

Nowadays, what do I bring to the business? Mainly it’s my personality. I’m the glue that holds everyone together

I am a great believer in luck and timing, but I stick by my principles and I always try to be a good decent person and apply that across everything I do. A lot of success in my business is based on friendship and trust. Liking somebody and trusting somebody are two of the main values for me. The other big thing in all of this is being brave. When there are moments that scare the life out of you, they make you stronger. Sometimes you have to go by your gut feeling and do what you believe is the right thing to do.

HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW THAT YOUR BUSINESS IS A HOUSEHOLD NAME? I never forget where we have come from and what we’ve achieved. I’ve got 200 people here now and there isn’t a day when I don’t look at everybody on the floor and think how proud I am of what everyone is doing. I’ll never forget what we’ve done and the sheer hard work and passion that everybody’s put in. I’m very grateful, and it

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SUCCESS Face on the cover

gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling when I think about it. We genuinely have that passion to save people money and we never lose focus on that, whatever else is going on. That’s one of my main values. I try to do right by my staff here and I try to do right by the customer. If you get those two things right, then the rest of the business takes care of itself.

SO WHAT COMES NEXT? I am very open and flexible about what the future might hold. I am generally a happy person – I’m very happy and content within my business and my job, and very happy and content with my home life. Before I’m the boss of Gocompare, I’m a mother of two little boys. Whilst Gocompare is important to me, so are my husband and my family. Overall I have a great life. But it’s still hard work and I am constantly working on my relationships in work and at home. That’s what this business is built on - that personal touch. Nowadays, what do I bring to the business? Mainly it’s my

personality. I’m the glue that holds everyone together. I’ve got a great management team in place, and the truth is that they make most of the dayto-day operational business decisions. So, although I’m the person that holds it all together, I’m not the person that dictates everything that goes on in the business.

AND WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO BUDDING ENTREPRENEURS? Quite often when I speak to people - and I do get a lot of calls and emails - and they tell me what their idea is, I feel they are desperate to be an entrepreneur and have their own business, but their idea isn’t sound and they should be very careful about what they are looking to invest in. There are a number of people who are destined to do something themselves, but they need to have weighed up the risks and know what their worst-case scenario is. It’s very important to understand that. A couple of years ago, someone was talking to me

about this idea they had. I really didn’t buy into the concept at all and I didn’t buy into their drive or capabilities, either. They were looking to sell their house to finance it. I told them they had to be very careful because I was worried they didn’t have the capability of making it work. Understand first what your worst-case scenario is, and then work everything back from that basis.

SO YOU’RE SAYING YOU SHOULDN’T BE AN ENTREPRENEUR JUST FOR ITS OWN SAKE? Yes. It worries me that some people desire it so much. But on the other hand, I really admire some people as well. There are a couple of people I know who try and try and try, and fail and fail and fail, but they keep going. And you know what? Some of them get there eventually. Contact:

I try to do right by my staff and I try to do right by the customer. If you get those two things right then the rest of the business takes care of itself 27 25

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SUCCESS Mumtrepreneurs

Mum’s the word A new breed of entrepreneurs have taken a hold across homes throughout the United Kingdom. With a baby on one arm and a phone in the other, these women are changing how mums are perceived across the business world. We talk to a few of these socalled "mumtrepreneurs" - women who have started businesses whilst on maternity leave or whilst looking after their young children - to find out how having children affects their business life and the challenges it presents

KATE COTTON & LOUISE FERGUSON, FOUNDERS OF SKINNY TAN Australian mums, Kate and Louise shot to stardom in 2013 when they entered the Dragons’ Den with their slimming, self-tanning product, Skinny Tan, and received an unprecedented offer from all five Dragons. Eventually they signed a deal with Piers Linney and Kelly Hoppen, receiving £60,000 for 10% of their business. One year later, we caught up with them to discuss their success and juggling a family life.

WHAT WERE THE INITIAL CHALLENGES OF SETTING UP A BUSINESS? Kate: “The business was borne out of a desire to spend time with our children. In Australia there is no maternity pay, so we had to find a way to make ends meet and provide an income. We also had a slightly selfish desire, after having children, to look good and look slim. With our background in the beauty industry, we set the business up almost for personal reasons, rather than business ones.” Louise: “With no money, we had to remortgage our houses, credit cards etc. We then presented it to Priceline (a large Australian chain, similar to Walmart) and got a deal. The odd thing was, we then had to go to the manufacturers and say, “We don’t have any money,;can you make it and we’ll give you the money once it is sold?”. It was a strange proposition for them, but luckily they did it and it allowed us to really take off.”

DID IT FEEL LIKE TAKING A MASSIVE LEAP OF FAITH? Kate: “To a degree it was a risk, but we weren’t getting any younger. My kids were older, but it is still tough. As a woman it’s a juggling act and you can be very hard on yourself. All businesses are all-consuming and so are children, so it really is a juggling act. You have to run with it and do your best.” Louise: “It was an difficult position to be in, having such little funds. People always say you must be brave, but it was a measured approach. We had this Priceline order and we knew it

was good from our background, so it didn’t seem so risky.

WHAT EFFECT DOES HAVING CHILDREN HAVE ON THE BUSINESS, YOUR MENTALITY, AND YOUR ENJOYMENT OF THE BUSINESS? Kate: “We’re very grateful to our kids; we want them to be proud of us, and we want to show them the value of hard work. We hope they can look up to us as an example of how far women in business can go, and the success they can achieve.” Louise: “The only downside is that we wanted to be well-tanned, very skinny, stay-at-home moms but, because Skinny Tan has become this runaway train, the children are being sucked into the office. When you have children, women look at their children and think, “I put my career on hold for you.” But with mine, they inspired me to take that leap and leave a job to do this.” Contact:

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SUCCESS Mumtrepreneurs

Childcare is the biggest issue though. Everything is easy compared to how little the Government helps you with childcare. I tried many times to get money back for childminding etc., through different schemes, but in the end I gave up as there was always some issue, or it was too difficult to get hold of help. When I was on benefits, everything was on credit cards. I was convinced I’d go bankrupt. There seemed to be no other way out. I was between a rock and a hard place, thinking “Have I fed my kids today? Will I have the money to feed them tomorrow?” That was a tough time.

I was convinced I’d go bankrupt. I was between a rock and a hard place, thinking “Have I fed my kids today? Will I have the money to feed them tomorrow?”


In Australia, there is no maternity pay, so we had to find a way to make ends meet and provide an income

LORENA OBERG, FOUNDER OF DERMAERAZE Whilst going through a bitter divorce, Lorena started experimenting with laser tattoo removal as a sideline to support her income, as the meagre benefits she subsisted on barely covered living costs for herself and her young child. It was during this time that she stumbled on an idea to use laser treatment to reduce stretch marks - the bane of many mothers - and so DermaEraze was born. We spoke to Lorena about her ordeal, and how she fought to achieve success.

HOW DID YOUR BUSINESS COME TO BE? “My husband took me to court for custody of our kids. High Court costs would have been twice the amount of my salary for a

year, so I decided to quit my job and become my own solicitor. Whilst I was doing this, a friend suggested I should do tattoo removal. I became interested in medical tattooing and one day it just clicked - “if lasers work with this and needling works like that, wouldn’t that work with stretch marks?” So I tested it on myself and saw an 80% reduction in stretch marks, which kick-started the whole thing and let me know I was onto something.”

WHAT WERE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES YOU FACED? “In the early days, there were no funds. I started working from home, but you can only do that for so long. I realised people wouldn’t take me seriously so I found a hairdressers, which let me use its treatment room for a good price.

“DermaEraze is a skin clinic and hair salon that has developed a cure for stretch marks. However, we also cater to women that are going through cancer, through make-up, prosthetic bra fitting, beautification etc. It’s a hugely rewarding thing to be able to give someone a sense of themselves back. To have someone who has had a double mastectomy, to give them prosthetics, and to help them feel like a woman again is an indescribable feeling. Above and beyond the business, that’s something that makes every day worthwhile.”

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER MOTHERS WANTING TO START A BUSINESS? Market research is vital. I see a lot of mothers saying “I’m going to make cupcakes etc.”, but the market is already saturated. Find out who your competitors are first and find your niche. Contact: 31 31

29/09/2014 15:51

SUCCESS Mumtrepreneurs

Mumtrepreneurs currently contribute around £7.4bn a year to the economy, but the average start-up cash they require is only £500

Baby business boomers Alan Ritchie, managing director, PC World Business reveals his top tips for mumtrepreneuers looking for the right technology to kick-start their business venture


umtrepreneurs currently contribute around £7.4bn a year to the economy, but the average start-up cash they require is only £500 - a low-risk, high-reward ratio that’s very attractive to parents. With the back-to-school season now in full swing, it’s the perfect time to kick-start a home business. However, choosing the right tools and technology can be daunting. Here, Alan Ritchie lays out a few of the best options for mumtrepreneurs to make a go of their new business.

TO PC, OR NOT TO PC Despite the popularity of tablets, many entrepreneurs still find laptops provide the functionality, mobility and familiarity they need for everyday tasks. The growing popularity of web apps and cloud data storage hosted online rather than on the device, reduces the need for internal memory and enables entrepreneurs to pick lighter and cheaper options than traditional laptops and PCs. For example,

HP’s Chromebook 11 is larger than most netbooks with an 11.6” screen, but still weighs less than 2.5 lbs. Also, despite the device running all of its applications through the Chrome web browser, it provides a handy offline mode so you can continue working even when it’s not possible to get online.

TABLET ENTREPRENEURIALISM Whilst laptops are better suited for everyday tasks, tablets are increasingly used by businesses. This is partly because they’re designed to be lightweight and slim, making them a very portable, flexible option. They also tend to have an impressive battery life, crucial for busy entrepreneurs who might not have time to stop and charge their tablet during the day. For example, the Google Nexus 7 has up to nine hours’ battery use. With both WiFi and 4G connectivity, email and the internet can be accessed instantly, regardless of whether you’re at home or out and about.

STAYING SECURE Another important consideration for every mum setting up a new home business is staying secure, particularly when on the move. Most mumtrepreneurs will store sensitive business information across multiple devices, accessing their data from a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop. To stay secure whilst doing so, entrepreneurs must ensure that their mobile network has the right precautions in place to keep them, their business, and their clients safe. For example, management services for mobile devices mean business owners can secure, control, and manage access to business content.

ADAPTING TO YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS These are just a sample of the ways aspiring mumtrepreneurs can work effectively from anywhere. Every small business is different, and everyone will have their own way of working, so of course some hardware and software will be better suited to some businesses than others. Any entrepreneurs who feel they need bit more support can get in touch with the PC World Business team, which can help them find and buy the right tech for them. Contact:

32 October 2014 32

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SUCCESS Up-and-coming

HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH THE IDEA FOR YOUR PRODUCT? In 2010, my mum was over from India and, over five months, I observed her frustration at using even the most basic internet applications like Skype, to keep in touch with my dad. I have been a lifelong IT helpdesk for family and friends - and I know I’m not alone - so I decided it was about time someone fixed that. When I looked around, existing solutions designed to help older people use the internet were horribly designed, downright patronising and used decadeold technology. Wanting to solve these problems sparked the idea for Breezie.

WHAT DO YOU AIM TO ACHIEVE? Quite simply to help the 5.7 million UK adults aged 55 and over who have never used the internet, feel less isolated by offering a solution that never patronises people and is simple to use without being low-tech. Technology can have lifechanging benefits for people who are lonely or less mobile, if only they can access it.

HOW DOES YOUR PRODUCT HELP PEOPLE? Breezie is an intelligent and fully personalised service that comes with all content and apps pre-installed, off-the-shelf, on a Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 touchscreen tablet. It alters the usual Android operating system interface to hide clutter from popular

This month we shine the spotlight on Jeh Kazimi, founder of tablet service, Breezie, which helps older generations get connected and stay social

Life's a breeze everyday applications such as Skype, Facebook, and Gmail and simplify the user experience. In short, it makes digital life a whole lot easier, and allows people who have never used the internet to enjoy its many benefits, from ordering prescriptions online, to keeping in touch with relatives.

WHAT INITIAL CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE? At the outset, it was difficult to attract talent and capital. Investors didn’t consider the ‘grey’ market very attractive - although that has changed dramatically over the past three years. Talented individuals want to work on mass market solutions, and the perception was that Breezie was less innovative and behind the technology curve. Once we demonstrated just how far ahead Breezie was, in terms of cutting-edge technology, we have been able to build an incredibly talented and passionate team.


We made it possible for a 92-year-old woman to Skype with her son in the US, who she hadn’t seen in three years. It was incredible and almost everyone there was in tears

The image that will always stay with me is of this 92-year-old woman in Middle Town Grange, walking around her care home showing off her son on a video call from the US. She kept repeating: “See, I told you I have a son”. It was her 92nd birthday, and we made it possible for her to Skype with her son, who she hadn’t seen in three years. It was incredible and almost everyone there was in tears.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE? In the UK, over 750,000 people say they feel lonely in later life. Nearly 500,000 of those are not online. There are still millions of UK adults over the age of 55 who have never used the internet. In five years time, we hope that Breezie will have directly contributed to reducing these numbers significantly. Contact: 35 35

29/09/2014 15:43

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LATEST releases

Book reviews

BOOK reviews How Great Leaders Think The Art of Reframing

by Lee G Bolman and Terrence E Deal Our verdict: About the authors: Lee Bolman holds the Marion Block Missouri Chair in Leadership at the Bloch School of Management, University of Missouri-Kansas City. He is also co-author of the bestseller, Reframing Organizations, with Terrence Deal. Terrence Deal is the founder of the Deal Leadership Institute, and has served on the faculties of Stanford, Harvard, Vanderbilt and the University of Southern California. We say: This offering from Bolman and Deal uses compelling, contemporary examples to

Becoming The Perfect Gentleman by Zach Falconer-Barfield and Nic Wing Our verdict: About the authors: Zach Falconer-Barfield is co-founder and 1st Gentleman of The Perfect Gentleman, a media and education company. Nic Wing is the 2nd Gentleman and editor in chief of the magazine, “The Code of the Gentleman”. He is a safe pair of hands to guide the nation’s men along the path of information. We say: When this publication first landed on my desk, my initial thoughts were “How dare they! Why should men, in a modern, genderequal society, be held to such archaic and misandrist notions?” However, once I delved

We’ve got one of each book to give away FREE. Be the first to follow and tweet us, quoting the book name @TalkBusinessMag and we’ll send you a free copy!

show how more complex thinking is the key to better leadership. Leaders who understand what’s going on around them see what they need to do to achieve the results they want. This is a refreshing look at how you can use differing methods of the standard management paradigms in a collaborative manner, in order to better achieve success. Whether you’ve been managing employees and setting a structure for your business for 20 years or 20 days, the simple, succinct explanations, illustrated with interesting and engaging examples, will help you get control of your business plan, and allow you to forge ahead with a well-rounded, concise vision. How Great Leaders Think is published by Jossey-Bass, priced at £20.99, and is available in hardback and e-book (priced at £12.99).

further into this offering, it became obvious that they are not championing the return of the much-maligned “Victorian gentleman”, but much rather a modern take on the art of manners and respect towards others in society from a male perspective. As they write early on; “The gentleman was never meant to be a misogamist or stuck in his ways, he was built on the principles of respect and acceptance.” With eight sections, covering everything from style to romance, Becoming The Perfect Gentleman contains everything you need to bring some semblance of decorum and civility back to the workplace. Whilst the overall message and themes are not for everyone, many will find delight in scouring it for hints and tips to aid them in their dayto-day dealings as a man. Becoming The Perfect Gentleman is published by Panoma Press, priced at £14.99, and is available in paperback. 37

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29/07/2014 09:26

FINANCE Funding expert

How low can you go? Funding expert, Julian Smith takes a look at how to improve your business’ credit score


t seems that SMEs are becoming less reliant on traditional sources of credit. According to its latest quarterly analysis of finance for SMEs (Q2 ‘14), BDRC Continental observed that only 30% of businesses were using traditional finance - be it an overdraft, loan, or credit card - compared to 36% in the same quarter two years ago. Interestingly, only 5% regarded themselves as would-be seekers of credit (down from about 10% in 2012). Being able to access credit is a good sign that other relevant participants in the market think that your company is in good health. But how do they make these judgments, and what influence do you have over their decisions? In the UK, there is a heavy reliance on credit reference agencies (the big five are CreditSafe, Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, Experian and Graydon collectively known as the CRAs). They gather information from public and non-public sources to build an aggregate picture of your business’ financial health from the point of view of a potential lender. The information they use is generally historic; what financial information has been filed with Companies House, whether or not there are any County Court Judgments against your company, and what

your payment history has been to suppliers. The system has a negative bias towards companies for whom there is not much information available, hitting start-ups particularly hard. For smaller companies, the business credit score will be closely related to the score of the individual directors, and finance providers will often seek a personal guarantee, so not only do you have to be aware of your business credit score, but also your personal score (it just happens that many of the CRAs also provide personal credit scoring services). Why is a negative credit score important? Well, even if you are not looking for a bank loan or overdraft approval, it could affect the way your suppliers treat you, and if they start being more demanding on payment terms, it could affect your cashflow profile. So what can you do to improve your credit score?:


You have the right to know what information the CRAs are using. If you discover errors or inaccuracies, you can do something about it by providing new information or filling historical gaps.




Think about the way you manage your business finances - the balance of debt and equity in the business; management of your debtors (to avoid having a knock-on effect on creditor payments); having a healthy working capital balance (ratio of current assets to current liabilities); and paying suppliers on time. Credit scoring tends to be trend based, so over time, with improving behavior and metrics, you can improve your credit score.

You have the potential to influence your credit score but, unfortunately, very few business owners actually take the time to do so


Sometimes, with finance providers it’s a question of educating them about the qualities of your business so they have an understanding of the financial characteristics, and are therefore less likely to penalise you unnecessarily. Although it may seem like a dark art, credit scoring is a subjective exercise calculated by people and machines with imperfect information. You, as a business owner, have the potential to influence the public view on your credit score. Unfortunately, very few business owners actually take the time to do so. Contact: Twitter: @lefundingexpert 39 39

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FINANCE London dominence

Too many eggs, not enough baskets Has London become so powerful, it is squeezing the life out of other cities? Or should we keep our golden goose in a feather bed? Matthew Marriott, commercial director of Hellmann Worldwide Logistics UK, weighs in


usiness Secretary, Vince Cable has said that London was becoming “a giant suction machine draining the life out of the rest of the country”. Despite London Mayor Boris Johnson’s (rather predictable) insistence that this was nonsense, I think Vince has a real point. Not only that, I think the situation is dangerous to the long term health of the economy. Of course, the fact that London is prospering is an obvious positive - it’s what that means for the rest of the county that is the issue. A statistic compiled by the thinktank, Centre for Cities recently found that 80% of national private sector jobs between 2010 and 2012 were created in London. 216,700 jobs to be

precise, while Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds created just 32,800 between them. In the public sector, for every job created in London, two have been lost in other UK cities. Frankly, these are ridiculous statistics; as clear an indication as you will ever get that the UK is subject to an immense economic imbalance. London attracts the infrastructure and investment that other UK cities desperately need. Furthermore, its contribution to growth on a national level obscures the unpalatable fact that other key cities (cities that could help the economy grow on a more even keel) are not progressing on a similar level. The comparative lack of major investment and infrastructure (capacity for road, rail and air traffic) in areas outside London effectively means that they literally cannot compete. It’s not London that needs an airport upgrade, it’s Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester. Likewise (and to weigh in on a fiercely debated issue), while Londoners may simply see HS2 as an expensive folly, it’s exactly that sort of infrastructure

In the public sector, for every job created in London, two have been lost in other UK cities

that the UK needs to help distribute its economic strength more widely. Germany is an example of a country that has really got this right. It uses Dusseldorf, Frankfurt and Munich as its economic spine – building the international profiles of all three without prioritising any single one over the other. To me, it has been no coincidence that the German economy has been one of the most resilient in the last five years. It uses different cities and established industries to create enviable stability. In my opinion, a country that relies on a single city (and leaning heavily on a single industry; finance) to drive its growth, not only does a major disservice to the millions of citizens who do not live within that city, but also fails to understand the fluctuating nature of global commerce. In still uncertain times, and barely a year since the phrase “tripledip” was regularly heard, you simply can’t afford to have all your eggs in one basket. Contact: 41 41

29/09/2014 16:03






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Where To Start? If you google insurance for your trade you will find numerous insurance adverts and comparison websites. Be careful who you select and steer clear of websites that collect your data and pass your details to brokers. You could end up being bombarded with calls and generic quotes. Are you getting a fair comparison? Good websites will show quotations from a number of insurers and direct insurers will only offer their own products. The specialist within your industry is unlikely to provide quotations online so you’ll need to pick up the phone. A broker will be able to offer online and offline quotes.

A good broker will do much more than a commercial call centre

Claims Procedures Ask what happens if you have a claim. Will you be directed to a free phone call centre or a dedicated claim administrator. If the claim does not proceed to a conclusion that you are satisfied with, how will you get independent advice. Generally direct insurers will have a quicker solution from start to finish, however if they don’t pay your claim you may find it difficult to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Talk to the professionals At Boothby Taylor, the policies arranged through our website are checked by our qualified, in-house team and clients that contact us direct receive personal advice. We explain the conditions and warranties in plain English ensuring real value for our clients. We’ll find the policy you can’t find online and help you through the claims process to make sure you get a fair resolution.

Our clients choose our high quality, personalised service year after year.

Cost vs. Quality Like any product or service, cheapest isn’t always best and there may be additional hidden charges along the way. A good broker will do much more than a commercial call centre, so think of cost as an investment in quality. Exclusions & Warranties The policy you buy online relies on you entering your information correctly, any errors you make will affect claims so make sure you re-read the information. Seek clarity on exclusions and warranties.

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23/09/2014 15:41

FINANCE Growth Accelerator

Take off the brakes with the GrowthAccelerator Start-ups and SMEs contribute more than £473 billion to the UK economy each year. There is a whole wealth of funding and advice out there to help businesses keep that figure growing. We take a look at one of them - GrowthAccelerator - in a bit more detail to see how it can help you

I In 2012/13 the businesses using GrowthAccelerator grew at least four times faster than the average SME

n 2013, there were 4.9 million businesses in the UK, 99% of which were small and medium enterprises[1]. Their value to the UK has been estimated at £473 billion, which translates to a huge 49.8% of the economy [2]. SMEs continue to be as important as ever to driving economic growth, so it is encouraging to see that, far from the recent challenging economic conditions dampening people’s appetites for running their own businesses, the opposite is actually true. Since the recession of 2008, the number of people classified as self-employed has risen by 15%. Interestingly, 60% of this increase has actually taken place even more recently from around the middle of 2011. Whilst the start-up rate is growing, it’s critical that the high growth potential amongst SMEs is harnessed, which is where GrowthAccelerator comes in. A partnership

between Government and private sector business growth experts, GrowthAccelerator was specifically developed for ambitious businesses with the potential for growth, and offers business leaders support in the form of tailored, expert coaching. A consortium, led by Grant Thornton UK LLP, has been delivering the service since its launch in April 2012.

HOW DOES IT WORK? SMEs looking to realise their growth potential will be assigned a growth manager, who will work with them to identify any current barriers to growth, and formulate a tailored plan to overcome these obstacles and achieve their ambitions for the business. These growth plans will typically focus on one of three areas: access to finance, business development, or growth through innovation.

44 October 2014 44

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FINANCE Growth Accelerator

To be eligible for GrowthAccelerator, your business must be registered in the UK and based in England, have fewer than 250 employees, and have a turnover of less than £40

All three are supported by coaching, workshops and masterclasses. Once the growth plan is agreed, the growth manager, in collaboration with the business, will select and appoint a growth coach against attributes including experience, skills and personality and relevance to the organisation. The expert network of growth coaches all have direct experience of running their own high-growth business, and their expertise spans a breadth of sectors and disciplines. This ‘matchmaking’ of a coach to a business is an especially important part of the process, as the growth coaches will work with them to deliver the growth plans, so it’s crucial that both parties get the most out of the relationship. Many businesses will deliberately select a coach with experience within their particular sector. However, many will seek out a coach who has run their own business in a completely different sector because they are keen to work with an expert who can inject a new perspective into their business. Once an appropriate coach has been chosen, a typical coaching schedule lasts around three to nine months, depending

on the size of the business, growth targets, and the growth plan itself.

WHAT IMPACT DOES THE SERVICE HAVE ON BUSINESS GROWTH? GrowthAccelerator is currently working with more than 18,000 ambitious businesses, who regularly tell us how much they value the opportunity to take a step back from the day-to-day running of their business and get an expert view on how to unlock potential. The results speak for themselves; In 2012/13 the businesses using the service grew at least four times faster than the average SME, and between April 2012 and April 2014, they generated £1.5 billion of growth (gross value added)[3] and created 36,572 jobs.[4] Looking ahead, in the next three years business leaders tell us that they expect to create an additional 2.6 million jobs and each generate a £295,000 turnover increase. These figures show that the service is well on the way to achieving its overall goal of generating £2.2 billion gross value added and creating 55,000 jobs by April 2015.

IS GROWTHACCELERATOR RIGHT FOR YOUR BUSINESS? To be eligible for GrowthAccelerator, your business must be registered in the UK and based in England, have fewer than 250 employees, and have a turnover of less than £40 million. Not every eligible business will be suitable, as GrowthAccelerator exclusively targets high-growth businesses who want to enter their next growth phase, and have the potential and determination to get there.

If you are interested in working with GrowthAccelerator to unlock the growth potential within your business, you can call the helpline on 0844 4632995, quoting Talk Business or contact Simon Stevens on 0207 728 3298, or email him at simon.stevens

[1] Source: House of Commons Library, Small business and the UK economy [2] Source: European Commission, SME performance review [3] Growth in this respect is measured by gross value added (GVA) which is a measure in economics of the value of goods and services produced in an area, industry or sector of an economy. [4] Based on data taken from a representative sample of 476 GrowthAccelerator clients who completed their support between April 2012 and April 2014. In this period these businesses collectively generated £81.6 million in gross value added and created 1,683 jobs. 45 45

29/09/2014 16:05



Growth Accelerator

Rosa’s Thai Café

ABOUT THE BUSINESS: With its roots in the East End of London, Rosa’s Thai Café has built a reputation for serving some of the best Thai food in London.

OUR GROWTH JOURNEY SO FAR: In 2008, I was running a digital agency in Hong Kong, where I met my wife, who is from Thailand. We set up a restaurant out there and ran it successfully for a couple of years before moving back to the UK. We found the dining experience in Thai restaurants back in the UK so disappointing that we decided to try and better it. As the idea grew, we set up a couple of stalls at the Sunday market in Brick Lane, which then led to us leasing an old café on the edge of Spitalfields market called Rosa’s in 2008. The opening party was chaos but proved to be a big hit thanks to the fantastic food that kept coming out of the kitchen. From there we didn’t look back, and it was immensely satisfying to watch the business succeed.

THE CHALLENGE: We made a lot of mistakes as we built the business, but I believe that, as long as you learn from mistakes and don’t repeat them in the future, then this is the only way to really learn and improve what you are doing. By July 2012, our gross profit was close to £1 million, but our net profit was just £22,000.

Alex Moore, managing director of Rosa's Thai Café, describes its journey to success with GrowthAccelerator

GETTING THE RIGHT ADVICE: At that point we found GrowthAccelerator. I had a meeting with them to discuss how they could help. I wanted to speak to people who had experience of growing a business and selling it successfully. We interviewed several people and ended up choosing two coaches to help us; Barbara, to help us expand successfully, and Tom, to help us with access to finance as well as our finances and legal structure. The main advantage is that they didn’t want anything from us in return for their help. They came into our business to enable us to reach certain goals - to help us, not to help themselves.

IMPLEMENTING CHANGE: Our coaches helped us to streamline our operation and merge our businesses together to form one legal entity. They helped us with leadership and management training, as well as implementing an appraisal system. Also, crucially, they put us in touch with a Thai language company so that we could translate all the health and safety laws for our chefs, who are from Thailand. At the end of the process, we were actually sad to see the coaches leave the company as they had been so instrumental in helping us to grow and manage how the business was run.

The main advantage of our Growth Coaches is they didn’t want anything in return for their help. They came to enable us to reach certain goals - to help us, not to help themselves


46 October 2014 46

29/09/2014 16:02

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29/09/2014 13:38

FINANCE Adam Aiken

It's in your best interest What do you do if you send your bills out on time, only to find that your customers are proving reluctant to cough up? Charge them interest, says Adam Aiken, finance expert


any business owners are unaware that you are allowed by law to increase the bills of third parties that fail to pay you on time. The Late Payment Directive, which was introduced by the Government to comply with European Union law, can help you in your dealings with both public and private sector partners. The Government says that “debtors will be forced to pay interest and reimburse the reasonable recovery costs of the creditor, if they do not pay for goods and services on time”. The accepted timeframe for payment is 30 days for public authorities, and 60 days for businesses. If you have already agreed different terms with your debtors, that’s fine, but any terms must be fair to both parties. A multinational that “negotiates” a 180-day payment agreement with its army of small suppliers would be deemed to have broken the terms of the directive. As far as timings are concerned, the clock starts ticking as soon as the customer receives the invoice,

A multinational that “negotiates” a 180-day payment agreement with its army of small suppliers would be deemed to have broken the terms of the directive or when you deliver the goods or provide the service – whichever is later.

HOW MUCH CAN I CHARGE? You can charge something called “statutory interest”, which is the Bank of England base rate plus 8%. Statutory interest at the moment is 8.5% but it could easily rise well into double figures when the base rate increases. Working it out is easy. If you are owed £2,500, you multiply the sum by 0.085, which gives an annual interest bill of £212.15. Divide this by 365 to give you a daily rate of just over 58p. So, if your invoice is 30 days overdue, you can re-bill the customer and add an extra £17.40. (If you agreed a lower interest rate for late payment with your customer, you can’t then apply the statutory interest rate instead.) You can also charge a fixed fee to help meet your recovery costs.

If the debt is up to £999.99, you can add another £40 to the bill; between £1,000 and £9,999.99 add £70; and on sums of £10,000 or more, the fee is £100. If you decide to apply interest and fees for late payment, make sure you send a new invoice for the increased amount. This will have the added bonus of being a permanent reminder to your tardy customers, and, if someone else (such as a senior manager) sees it, it might lead to a more prompt payment next time.

THINGS TO REMEMBER It is important to get paid as soon as possible but try not to burn too many bridges - you don’t want to fall out with those you do business with. Be firm when you chase up an unpaid invoice, but be polite. Also, consider making any follow-up requests for payment over the phone as it is harder to ignore. 49 49

29/09/2014 16:10


A Week in the Life of... Ros Hendren, Payroll Consultant from Well Paid. Monday It’s the start of another busy week, the first order of the day being to contact a prospective client, referred to us by their consultant FD who wants to separate payroll from their accountancy service as a strategic move to reduce risk It’s a small company with fewer than twenty employees, and a mix of weekly and monthly paid. It fits our core business, the call went well, and a follow up visit has been booked to hopefully seal the deal, a good start! The rest of the day is taken up with chasing missing client information, and finishing a report for a client who commissioned a review of their payroll processes. We’ve identified a number of areas where they can make efficiency savings, so another satisfied customer.

TUESday Having dealt with today’s admin and caught up on email, I take the opportunity to follow up on an outstanding project with a local sports club, who unwittingly got into a bit of trouble with payments to players who came to the UK for the playing season from overseas. HMRC have reviewed the last 6 years and are expecting


payment of outstanding NIC’s as well as compulsory fines and interest due. I have been negotiating with HMRC for four months, and am expecting a decision regarding the amount that must be paid so I call for an update. As they are an amateur ‘not for profit’ club, I am delighted when HMRC confirm that the appeal has halved the bill, as the original amount due could quite easily have put the club out of business. A great end to the day.

WEDNESday The day starts with a call from a client asking for advice regarding a pregnant employee. It’s the first time they’ve had to deal with maternity pay, and they were delighted when we were able to advise them they are eligible to recover 103% of the cost from HMRC. Today is a busy day for weekly payroll as we have reports to produce along with finalised payslips ahead of Friday’s payday.

THURSday A quieter day so there’s chance to catch up on the ‘to do’ list. We’ve had an update from HMRC about the Tax Widget that we host on our website so we spend some time making the updates.

Next up is dealing with an enquiry about auto enrolment. Like many companies, our client was unsure of when their staging date was and didn’t really know what was expected of them. After 45 minutes on the phone they were a lot happier and a lot clearer. I make notes in a follow up email and send them over. Late afternoon a client rings in a panic as they have forgotten to add overtime for an employee and want to know if it’s too late to make the change. Luckily the final submissions haven’t been done yet and we can make the late amendment for them.

FRIday A busy day for payroll, the weekly payments are all due today and the FPS submissions have to be made to HMRC. Friday afternoon is reserved for catching up with emails and reviewing next week’s schedule. Then my husband announces that it is time to pack up for the day and so I stop and reflect on what has been a busy but satisfying week, and gratefully accept the gin and tonic he has placed in front of me!

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To find out more contact Ros on 0161 327 2015 or visit

29/09/2014 12:27

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23/09/2014 16:22


You get what you pay for This month Rich With advises you to give those moths in your wallet a bit of fresh air


rands are for the likes of Tesco,” declared the man who’d just walked into our studio. I couldn’t be bothered to argue. Droning on about his firm’s lack of fortunes, it was clear that he had no intention of investing any more than you or I would spend on a tank of petrol. He placed no value on the benefits of decent design. This conversation is one we endure on a regular basis websites that offer logo design for £5 have, in many people’s eyes, commoditised my industry; “Why should I pay you ‘X’ amount, when I can get it for a fraction of the cost online, from my cousin etcetera, etcetera.” The answers simple. It just won’t look as good. Good design is something to behold, it’s something that has a contagious effect - it spreads and people talk about it. It’s the beautifully designed packaging that makes you want to buy one brand of sausages over another. It’s the reason that iPads are more in demand than Nexus’ and yet, are twice the price. Everywhere you look there are examples of how good design is influencing people’s choices.

The bottom line is, good design makes a difference to your business, and if you don’t believe me you’re deluding yourself. Why does every major company invest a ton of money in their brand identity and strategy? Why has this very magazine hired someone specifically to lay out this page you’re reading now in an aesthetically pleasing manner? Traditionally, this has been a problem at a grass roots level. Shops will spend thousands on ugly signage, or services will fork out a year’s mortgage payments on a website that isn’t fit for its true purpose, yet mention designing an identity for a reasonable sum, and they break out in a cold sweat. There are positive signs out there. Recently, an estate agency local to me has rebranded with a fresh approach that was completely different to every other agent in the area. It had been well thought through and the execution was first class. The designer responsible has paid attention to carving a differential between their client and the competition. Fortunately, we’re seeing lots of new local companies springing up, keen to invest in the design of all aspects of their brand,

Don’t devalue your brand - if you want people to invest in your company you have to invest in it yourself first

and owned by switched on, upand-coming entrepreneurs who appreciate the value that well designed brand identities can bring to their company.

I’ve talked before about paying a fair price for the skills and services of someone who not only has the skill set, but also the relevant experience on how to make your business stand out. These people will make you money - and quite possibly a lot of money. Don’t believe the hype, and don’t devalue your brand - if you want people to invest in your company, you have to invest in it yourself first. Contact: 53 53

29/09/2014 16:17

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30/09/2014 11:41

STRATEGY Employee sickness

Absence doesn't make the heart grow fonder


With sickness absence costing an average of ÂŁ595 per employee each year, managing it should be a priority

he business cost of sickness absence can be considerable - from paying salaries or sick pay, to replacement staffing costs - not to mention its impact on customer satisfaction and workforce morale. For SMEs in particular, the impact of absent employees can prove business critical. With sickness absence costing an average of ÂŁ595 per employee each year, according to a 2013 CIPD study, managing it should be a priority. Very little can be done to tackle the problem unless companies know when and where it is happening - and why. Effective management relies on accurate and upto-the-minute data. Without this, managers are unable to determine whether or not their business faces a costly absence problem, identify trends or tackle underlying causes. The foundation stone should be a clear absence policy, supported by absence and recording processes, which support business objectives. These should collect real-time data on every incidence of absence, ensure line managers are automatically informed,

PMI Health Group director, Mike Blake examines the business cost of employee sickness absence for UK SMEs, and the options for tackling and minimising the risks and provide a statistical insight into individual, departmental, or company absences for management teams. Advanced software systems that employ automated recording technology can help deliver this cost effectively.

PREVENTION IS THE BEST CURE An absence policy that clearly states what actions need to be taken for given causes of absence will ensure businesses are well prepared, ready to grasp the nettle and take action when incidents of absence go beyond a designated timescale. This may involve early intervention from occupational health professionals, for example, to prevent short-term employee absences becoming longterm problems. Expert advice from health risk consultants, however, is advisable to ensure policies are appropriate and tailored to the needs of the companies concerned.

It’s widely accepted that prevention is the best cure for illness and injury. For businesses that may not have a handle on the various risk factors affecting their staff, full health screenings, carried out by medical professionals, offer an ideal starting point. Comprehensive tests will offer information on everything from blood pressure and body fat to lung function and hearing. If conducted on an annual basis, these tests can act as a non-taxable benefit. Online health risk assessments can also provide employees with the means to create personalised profiles by logging details such as height, weight, sleeping patterns, and diet. All of this data can then be used to better tailor the advice and support given to staff, allowing healthcare and wellbeing programmes to be personalised, rather than following a one-sizefits-all approach. 55 55

29/09/2014 16:23

STRATEGY Employee sickness

Stress and mental illness is responsible for more than half of all working days being lost every year, and is now the number one cause of workplace absence

TACKLING STRESS Stress and mental illness is responsible for more than half of all working days being lost every year and is now the number one cause of workplace absence, according to research by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. Healthcare analysts however, believe preventive healthcare and mental health services will continue to be a target for cuts by NHS trusts, putting the onus on employers to consider options to fund treatment themselves. Where closure of absence is likely to take some time, a programme of early intervention can be particularly effective.

THE BENEFIT OPTIONS Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) - a short-term therapy that helps individuals to change negative thought processes can be offered to employees to facilitate their return to the workplace. Referrals can often be offered to staff through healthcare benefits, such as PMI, income protection, or employee assistance

programmes (EAPs). EAPs also provide staff with access to a dedicated telephone support line, which enables them to speak with trained counsellors at any time of the day or week. Budgetary constraints generally make it financially prohibitive for SMEs to offer PMI to all its employees, but flexible hybrid health insurance schemes offer a viable alternative - and are often tailored to tackle the key causes of absence. These policies will pay for common treatments classed by the NHS as non-urgent that would previously have been cost prohibitive for many employers. As a result, employees are given access to support, and can return to work more quickly. Cash plans also offer a low-cost benefit with high perceived value, incorporating physiotherapy, chiropractic and mental health benefits to help address musculoskeletal and stress-related issues. In fact, recent research has revealed that they are now as

popular as health insurance among UK workers. Higherend cash plan benefits can provide cover for high-tech scans, access to wellbeing websites, online health risk assessments, and even discounts for gym memberships. As cash plans are treated as a benefit in kind for tax purposes, the employee need only pay tax on the premium, rather than the actual cost of treatment received and, in some cases, may even be eligible for a P11D exemption. Cash plans also deliver a feel good factor, improving staff morale, motivation and even productivity. For a relatively low cost, individuals can usually choose to upgrade to cover their families. Dental charges are one of the most frequently made claims on cash plans, but can also be covered in isolation under dental plans. Such plans have become all the more compelling in recent years as days lost to dental problems increase. At an average of cost of around ÂŁ10 per employee per month, they are well-placed to deliver ROI, especially as better dental health is increasingly being linked to general health and wellbeing. In cases of potential longterm absence, it may be helpful to appoint a case manager to plan and coordinate the delivery of appropriate management and medical interventions. Specialist health risk professionals are best placed to advise SMEs on the most health and wellbeingappropriate strategies available to them. Contact:

56 October 2014 56

29/09/2014 16:23

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25/09/2014 17:55

STRATEGY Commercial property

Your office is the vital hub in which your business operates, so it is imperative that it sets the tone for everything you do. Greg Ball, development surveyor at Muse Developments highlights the common mistakes to avoid when looking for commercial property

58 October 2014 58

29/09/2014 16:30

STRATEGY Commercial property

Property pitfalls A s the economy continues to improve, many SMEs are seeking to upgrade and expand their current office facilities in preparation for future growth. With demand increasing for Grade A office space, it’s important that business owners familiarise


themselves with how to select commercial property, and learn what to avoid.

options are often a great solution for expanding companies. However, with insufficient planning, many businesses find themselves forced to consider less efficient, existing buildings that don’t meet their needs. Starting the process 18 to 24 months before the expiration of a current lease, allows companies enough time to consider modern, bespoke new-build offices that would be better suited to their business in the future.

COSTS Those upgrading their office space for the first time often don’t fully understand relocation costs or how to manage them. Most leases require tenants to restore accommodation to its original condition and configuration. This, in addition to fitting out a new space, further increases capital expenditure. However, these large-scale capital costs can usually be off-set by flexible landlords offering rental incentives, which can be structured in a variety of ways to reduce cash flow problems. Thus, when assessing the cost of relocation, it’s important for companies to explore this option.

Timing is another key consideration for SMEs who have decided to upgrade. Given the shortage of Grade A office accommodation in many markets, occupiers often don’t give themselves enough time to properly review the property options in their preferred area. Modern, bespoke, new-build

NOTICE PERIODS Before searching for office space, it is also a good idea to review the existing lease for break notice periods, which allow a tenant to end the lease on a specific date. Serving an incorrect break notice is a common property pitfall, which can prevent businesses from exiting their existing lease liability and force them to remain

in unsuitable accommodation. Furthermore, failure to effectively exercise a break can potentially lead to double occupational costs if the business has already committed to a new space.

LOCAL ENVIRONMENT Finally, as most SMEs upgrade their facilities to make room for additional staff, it’s important to

consider how the environment and location of a new space will impact the ability to attract or retain high quality employees. Whether a property has good transportation links, is near a readily available pool of qualified candidates, and provides key amenities such as shopping, fitness or entertainment facilities, can all affect a company’s recruitment efforts - a key factor when selecting a new office location. Although there are a variety of factors to consider, business owners who seek the advice of commercial property experts, and familiarise themselves with the process, will find it easier to navigate the market and acquire a space that fits their business needs.

Failure to effectively exercise a break can potentially lead to double occupational costs if the business has already committed to a new space

Contact: 59 59

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23/09/2014 30/07/2014 15:33 14:56

STRATEGY Interviewing tips

FINDING THE NEEDLE in the haystack


or many start-ups and SMEs, the fledgling years as you expand can be an exciting time. But one issue that many will face - especially one-manbands - is that as the workload increases, you need to invest in new staff. However, many will not have the experience in hiring additional workers and it can seem like a daunting task. So what can you do to help make the process more efficient and keep costs (and your time) to a minimum? Editor Luke Garner takes a look, with a little help from industry experts.

USE OF AVAILABLE 1MAKE TECHNOLOGY There are a whole host of technologies available out there to make your life easier, and many from the upcoming generation will be familiar with them, so why not utilise them? Traditionally, the initial interview stage would involve scheduling a number of candidates to visit your offices at allocated time-slots and partake in a sit-down interview process. But this not only takes time to arrange (everyone has different schedules to adhere to after all and they may have current employment or family to fit in around), it is also costly for both you, in terms of time, and the candidate, in terms of transport costs. The best way around this is to conduct your interviews using video conferencing technology.

This cuts down on the time it takes to interview each candidate, as well as not having to wait for candidates who “just can’t seem to find your office”

This can be done easily through free-to-use software such as Skype (which most people will be familiar with) or even Facebook video-calling (though some candidates may be less than inclined to share their innermost Facebook thoughts and ramblings with a potential employer). This allows you to not only cut down on the time it takes to interview each candidate, as well as not having to wait around for candidates who “just can’t seem to find your office”, but it also saves the potential employee money in transport costs. “Technology in the modern age is changing not only the way we work, but also the way we get work. Businesses across multiple industries and sectors are using Skype as a means to interview candidates; whether it is that the person is unable to travel to meet in person as they are based abroad, or simply that a Skype call is a more efficient solution,” explains Gavin Russell, global programme manager at Microsoft. Whilst not everyone will be able to attend such an interview, it

Editor Luke Garner takes a look at three ways in which SMEs and start-ups can find new staff efficiently and cost effectively

should help to minimise the amount of face-to-face interview slots required, freeing up your time and also allowing greater flexibility for those with busy schedules.


Unfortunately, and very frustratingly for candidates, many companies seem to have used “the economic downturn” as an excuse to squeeze pay for skilled and educated employees. There is nothing more annoying for a candidate to find a job that they are suited for, that they have the necessary skills and qualifications for, only to find it pays too little and doesn’t appreciate those very skills they have. 61 61

29/09/2014 16:21

STRATEGY Interviewing tips

Whilst it is natural to want to pay as little as possible for the work you need doing, you need to remember you have a human at the other end of the transaction. By paying an unfair amount for a job that isn’t in line with market norms, you will turn away the very people you are trying to attract in the first place, leaving you with a handful of unskilled, unsuitable applicants. I’ve seen this happen very often and you get the old line thrown out by employers that “there just aren’t qualified people out there” or “there is a skills shortage”, when actually the problem is they are trying to get something on the cheap and are alienating potential employees. What’s worse is that if someone miraculously does take up the job offer, they aren’t likely to stick around for long as they head for greener pastures, thereby increasing your costs as you need to look for someone to fill the vacancy once again. I’m not advocating that you should throw just money at a vacancy and overpay, but there is such a thing as fair pay for a fair day’s work, and a happy employee is a productive one.


Using online software that scans for keywords relevant to the role can help to identify a shortlist of candidates suitable for interview without having to read every last word

With more than two million people looking for work in the UK right now, it is no wonder that some people are getting desperate, to the extent that some will apply for any available job in the hope of snagging something, anything. This can be frustrating for employers to receive stacks of unsuitable applications, but there is a way to sift through the pile. Using online software that scans for keywords relevant to the role can help to identify a shortlist of candidates suitable for interview without having to read every last word. Using free software such as ikrut (www. will help to keep everything in one place and pre-scan any applications. Additionally, knowing the exact criteria you are looking for before you send out a request for applicants is vital. You’ll only waste your own time if you entertain interviewees that turn out to be wholly incompatible because you’ve cast the net too wide. “The most effective interview processes should begin

well before the prospective employee is sitting in front of you, starting with a well thought out job specification,” says Jodie Finn, associate director, Venn Group. “Many job specifications focus on ideal experience requirements and a list of duties and responsibilities. However, by including expected performance outcomes for the role, job specifications can become an effective tool for the interview itself and a useful basis for benchmarks by which to compare multiple candidates.” So there you have it. Follow these three tips and you’ll have a great foundation with which to find your perfect employee to help you grow your company.

62 October 2014 62

29/09/2014 16:21


Settlement Agreements

- one year on Helena Woodward looks at Settlement Agreements a year after their introduction

Last July we saw the introduction of settlement agreements. These renamed, simplified versions of the compromise agreement were part of the government’s reforms to employment law. The intention was that the settlement agreement would make it far easier for an employer to propose a mutual end to the employment relationship. An employer is now able to consult with an underperforming or difficult employee bypassing their formal lengthier disciplinary or capability procedures. If the employee accepts the offer made, it can result in a far quicker and in certain circumstances, more amicable departure. Prior to the new rules, if an employer discussed ending an employee’s employment without going through the correct process or procedures they would risk a potential constructive dismissal claim on the grounds of a breach of trust and confidence (providing of course, that the employee had the necessary length of service). Now, any offer or discussion of a proposed settlement started by an employer cannot be used or

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referred to in employment tribunal proceedings, unless the employer was guilty of discrimination. To avoid any potential pitfalls, an employer should always obtain advice prior to having a “without prejudice” discussion when a settlement agreement will be offered. The settlement agreement really works best when the employee also wishes to move on, or would be prepared to do so in exchange for a payment compensating them sufficiently until they are able to find a new job. What can be more problematic are situations where the employee clearly does not want to leave. Concerns about being unable to find new employment in a poor job market often mean that an employee may be very reluctant to agree to anything unless they can negotiate a particularly good deal. An employee should never be forced to enter into a settlement agreement. However, it can often be difficult to carry on as usual after such discussions have taken place. This is particularly so, in circumstances where an employee might face

going through the more time consuming redundancy or capability procedures instead. The employee should always obtain independent advice on receipt of a proposed settlement agreement. This is so that they are fully aware of the options available to them, the potential claims they may have against their employer or any other grounds for negotiating the best possible settlement. For further information contact a member of our employment team on 01483 887766 or email

23/09/2014 16:10

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29/09/2014 13:13

STRATEGY Powwownow

Smart talk Powwownow's marketing director, Robert Gorby looks at how you can build smarter networks across your business


uilding and running record companies, airlines, shops, mobile networks and train services requires being smart, but read anything about how he achieved his success and it is quickly pointed out that Sir Richard Branson places a lot of capital on the importance of connecting, collaborating and delegating. Britain’s most dynamic (and most bearded) of billionaires, Sir Richard Branson, achieved great things through being able to work effectively and talk persuasively – with other people, across his business and outside of it. Branson is not alone in pointing out the importance of building networks and smart teams. Scan any management magazine or leadership advice column and you’ll be advised to strengthen your networks, promote innovation, and encourage greater collaboration across your business to drive efficiencies and get rid of hierarchies and stodgy processes. But although it sounds the right thing to do, it is harder to do in practice. Management Professor, Morten T Hansen, offers five useful tips on how to encourage a collaborative culture: Build outwards - you need to find connections across and


outside of your department and get into other units and other areas. Aim for diversity, not size you need different opinions, skills, knowledge and variety, not hundreds of in-house marketing executives. Look for ‘weak ties’ - casual and quick interactions, not highly involved communications, are valuable and low-touch is better than high-maintenance. Find ‘bridges’ - the people who can connect you to distant shores of knowledge and skill. Swarm - enlist others to help you discuss and open up the right connections and conversations. Knowledge management and leadership guru, David Gurteen speaks and consults across the world on how leaders can build smarter knowledge networks. He stresses the importance of not making assumptions and understanding that you may have different cultures across the organisation. Most importantly, he points out managers must give people time to create the social and personal connections between team members, so they can work well together. Again, as Gurteen and others have pointed out, it’s important to understand that, although our work is often





technical, it’s at its heart, a highly social process. Previously, being a manager meant controlling, ordering, directing and administrating. A competitive edge today is more likely found within a leadership style that steers, coaches and connects people right across the organisation. That means creating a meeting and conversational culture that supports healthy debate, where questioning, exchanging ideas, and sharing information is the norm. Ultimately, as Sir Richard points out, business is about getting the most out of people. By promoting a culture that encourages better meetings with open questions - whether by audio, video or face-to-face - you may not end up a bearded billionaire but you will be on your way to building smarter conversations and more effective teams.

Managers must give people time to create the social and personal connections between team members, so they can work well together

Contact: 65 61

29/09/2014 16:20





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23/09/2014 15:34

MARKETING Kimberly Davis

It doesn’t matter if you’re black or white (or male, or female, or...) Should I feel sorry for myself because I’m “a poor woman who has been harassed, suppressed, and disrespected”?


do not fly the “women in the workplace” flag. That’s right, I said it. (Bet you didn’t expect to hear that from a woman!) Let me be clear; I’m not a feminist, I’m not old fashioned, I’m a realist, and the reality is that it doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, black or white, Islamic or Catholic, rich or poor, fat or thin, everyone encounters obstacles in life and work. Everyone is treated with some sort of prejudice or harassment - even white men. So what? My first boss used to call all the women on the staff “crack whores”. My next boss made it clear he believed women only belonged in the kitchen. When I appeared on The Apprentice, another candidate called me obese in front of 10 million people. So what? Should I let these things break me? Should I feel sorry for myself because I’m “a poor woman who has been harassed, suppressed, and disrespected”? No! I’m grateful for these experiences,

Marketing guru and owner of Sarsaparilla Marketing, Kimberly Davis shares her thoughts on how the drive for equality is masking the real qualities needed to be a success they made me who I am. They lit a fire so strong that it’s made me smarter, more resilient, and even more determined to prove them wrong. Why would I ever moan about them? And why would I ever make it about being a woman, when I know the same things happen to men, other genders, other religions, and so on? The difference between those who succeed and those who fail is simple - it all comes down to attitude. When I hire employees, I always say that it doesn’t matter if they have experience; I can always teach them new skills, but what I can’t teach is the right attitude. If you make excuses, point the blame elsewhere, and always complain about why you can’t do something, you’ll never succeed. Successful people all share the same traits. They find ways to overcome obstacles. They transform negatives into positives and they create opportunities. If people see me as successful, it’s not because I’m a woman or because I had any special opportunities. All the greatest leaders and business people had to overcome adversity.

Michael Jordan was cut from his High School basketball team because apparently he wasn’t good enough. Oprah was told she didn’t have the look for TV. JK Rowling was rejected 12 times for Harry Potter. Can you imagine if these people spent all their time dwelling over the injustices against them? They would’ve never succeeded - and neither will you if you fall into that trap. I love working with men and women. I don’t believe anyone should be bullied, harassed, or treated unkindly, but unfortunately it happens - to everyone. Whether you want to make millions or just have the freedom to do what you want, to achieve it you need to stop making excuses. The sweetest justice of all is achieving amazing success. So go get it, no matter who you are! Download Kimberly’s free e-book “7 Deadly Marketing Mistakes Destroying Your Business, Right Now (and you don’t even know it), now at 67 67

30/09/2014 10:23

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23/09/2014 08/09/2014 16:27 16:31

MARKETING Perfect press releases

n o i t n Atte seekers

G For the journalist looking for content to fill their pages, a picture or graphic is frequently the difference between a release getting printed or not

etting a journalist to pick up a press release is much the same as a dating agency getting the perfect date. It’s all a matter of getting the DNA right and presenting it in an irresistible way. The DNA has several key strands. There must be facts, something different, and a compelling reason to read more - all put together in a way that a journalist can decide if it warrants more than a three second skim read. And that’s where to start. The “teaser” is the three-second summary paragraph that’s the critical hook. It’s the bio on the dating site that tickles the senses. Spend time perfecting it, then test it out on the most cynical person you know to find out whether you have captured what the underlying story is, but tickled the senses too. If not, you won’t capture the good looking date. That done, the body of the release is, in a way, less important. By now, if still hooked, the journalist is looking for article content. So more facts (not just a product promotion paper!) and reasons why your story is different. A survey for instance, a topical event, or a solution to an issue. Basic factual information is enough for journalists as a starter - if more is needed they will be in touch. It is much

Most press releases hit the junk email folders of journalists without ever getting opened. How can you ensure your news grabs the attention? Gemma Guise of explains how to craft the perfect press release better to be focused on the key message you want to land, than it is to write pages and pages, which will not get read and - at worst - convey the wrong story. It is also important to provide a quote if possible, ideally from a recognised and independent person who has knowledge of your sector or region, along with a quote from the “owner” of the press release too. For the journalist looking for content to fill their pages, a picture or graphic is frequently the difference between getting printed or not, so add a link to a good, relevant graphic. Then go right back to the start and frame your headline. This is the dating site picture. It’s the immediate attention grabber, and must do exactly that. In no more than ten words you have to conjure up provocation, something edgy that will lead the reader genuinely to want to see what the underlying story is. It is emphatically not a boring fact, but a brave statement that is more spin than safe. With the headline hooking, the teaser tempting, the copy capturing, and the graphic

gluing the interest, don’t forget to provide direct contact details, out of hours as well as nine-to-five. Journalists often work strange hours, and the spokesperson available when it suits the journalist is often the spokesperson in the article. So, there you have it - the perfect press release! Contact: 69 69

29/09/2014 16:25

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Rockstar plans 13 th encore at show Rockstar Mentoring Group founder and managing director, Jonathan Pfahl, explains to Steve Takle how The Business Show kick-started his company, and why he’s exhibiting again at the 32nd Business Show this November

Before you spend any money, find out if there are people who will buy your product. Don’t just assume they will because they are already buying from a competitor


onathan Pfahl hasn’t always been the managing director of a multi-millionpound business. Now, he’s a respected name in business circles, an influential thought leader through social networks, and a Top five finalist in the O2 X Awards for Male Entrepreneur of the Year. The Rockstar Mentoring Group works with the Government on its start-up loans initiative to help young entrepreneurs turn their dreams into reality. But just seven years ago, Jonathan was wandering the halls of the Business Startup Show, looking for inspiration. Fresh off the boat from down under, Jonathan had benefitted first-hand from the internal mentoring programme while working for Goldman Sachs. Then, once more, a mentor enabled Jonathan to make a lot of money in not a lot of time on the property market, and the seeds that would become a business success story were sown. Jonathan realised that a good mentor could be invaluable to startups and SMEs in need of solid business guidance. In his own words: “If you’re going to do something well, find someone

who’s already done it.” That formed the kernel of Jonathan’s idea for a business; to assemble a team of successful business people and find clients who would benefit from their guidance. He would charge a fee that would pay for the mentors, and the rest would go into the business. Like all the best ideas, it was simple, but where to start? “I had this idea. I walked around the Business Startup show in 2006 and there was no-one there offering mentoring. The show not only gave me the confidence to start my own company, but six months later, I was exhibiting at what was to become the first of 13 shows. Now, we’re the second biggest feature at the show.” Jonathan came away from his very first Business Show as a visitor with his own web domain and a developer to build it, as well as a book keeper. He also came away better equipped with business insight to start his venture, inspired by the keynote seminars he attended. Encouraged by what he had seen at Business Startup, Jonathan set up Rockstar Mentoring Group the next year. Six years later, the Group

70 October 2014 70

29/09/2014 16:27

MARKETING Sponsored article

Exhibitors who learn and grow with each show can take their business to the next level. You’ll get it wrong to begin with, but you can learn from those mistakes

now has 60 mentors who have each started and sold their business for an average of $18 million (£11 million), and a managed combined client portfolio worth more than $1 billion (£612 million). Given that his day job is helping aspiring entrepreneurs, what advice does he have to offer anyone considering starting a business? “Before you spend any money, find out if there are people who will buy your product. Don’t just assume they will because they are already buying from a competitor. Find out about these people; who are they? Where do they hang out online and offline? Contact them. Go to The Business

Show to get an inside view of the kinds of services there are, learn a lot with the seminars and workshops, but also promote or ‘sell’ your business. A lot of business is done at the show.” Jonathan says that visiting his first Business Show made him realise this is the sort of show you want to exhibit at. “It’s gotten better for us over the years. Exhibitors who learn and grow with each show can take their business to the next level. You’ll get it wrong to begin with, but you can learn from those mistakes. Look at it as an investment. Make an impact. We started with a 2x3 stand and now we have a 100 square metre

stand!” he says. Clearly impressed by the return on investment that they see on exhibiting, the 32nd Business Show will be the 13th time that Rockstar Mentoring Group has exhibited. “We’ve grown with The Prysm Group and The Business Show,” says Jonathan. “It’s gone from a back-of-a-fag-packet idea to a multi-million pound business. I owe a lot to the show - it’s helped our presence and brand so much.” The Business Show features an incredible array of exhibitors, highly influential speakers, workshops and networking, with more than 25,000 visitors expected to visit Olympia London across the two days of 27-28 November. If you want to be there, book your free ticket now at www.greatbritishbusinessshow.

10 MILLION REASONS TO BE HAPPY The Business Show this November lives up to its status as Europe’s fastest growing business exhibition and conference with the addition of T10+, an exclusive business event designed for the most ambitious growing businesses in the UK. Every aspect of the show has been carefully designed to drive businesses far beyond the £10 million turnover barrier. Offering insightful seminars, exclusive networking opportunities, and practical workshops, the first ever T10+ exhibition and conference will be held alongside The Business Show at Olympia, London on 27 and 28 November 2014. Apply for your free ticket now at 29 71

29/09/2014 16:28

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PEOPLE Telling us what we want to hear

Telling us what we want to hear? Dr Deborah Benson, leadership development consultant at Leaders For Leadership, asks if our perception of good leadership is simply a media distortion?


mid the many constructs of leadership, one gaining ground is “quiet leadership”. Really it is nothing new. We have all witnessed very effective leaders, who have that still, considered style, yet who frequently surprise people with their effectiveness and motivational power, combined with their uncanny ability to put the fear of God into underperformers without raising their voices. Their approach is analytical, balanced, and often perceptive yet, behind that inner calm, there is a quietly confident steeliness, and their considered approach can make them hard to sway once their minds are made up. Often somewhat introvert, many are actually approachable, supportive and open minded, whilst others remain an acquired taste - like the best single malts, they take a bit of getting used to, but once appreciated, engender huge loyalty. The inner calm of such leaders can be highly attractive to employees and clients alike. It’s hard not to see these people as ideal leaders for an organisation or a country, yet why then are they apparently thin on the ground at the top echelons of both? As long ago as the 1930s, political and management guru, Parker Follett strongly disputed the then and, arguably, still prevailing notion that “aggressiveness and leadership are synonymous”, that leadership was based on dominating and giving orders. “The test of a good

foreman is not how good he is at bossing, but how little bossing he has to do” and yet, nearly a century later, we see the loud, media-savvy leaders dominating our political arena, and their peers lauded as the captains of industry. Why do we fall for the heroic model of leadership? Why do we appear to need our leaders to be over-confident, super-articulate, even arrogant? Why do we accept “being tough” as one of the primary requisites of leadership, despite history showing us that aggressive leaders generally do not deliver the best results? Is it because the media needs good sound bites? A quiet leader, not prone to dramatic announcements, nor banging the egotistical drum of success - whether success has truly been achieved or not - is not such a good press story. Perhaps the public demands excitement. Reading about quiet, honest, intelligent leaders just isn’t as interesting. However, maybe we can’t blame the media. Do the public mistake aggression for strength, confidence for insight? We are the post-war generations that were fed the heroic image of leadership. Nothing inspires our loyalty and patriotism more than a good military victory - as Thatcher found. Churchill may have been a great war-time leader too, but we forget his star dimmed rapidly in peace time. So is the media simply feeding off our desire for “heroic” leaders, those charismatic un-

yielding individuals who ride in to save us - even when it was often they that caused the crisis in the first place? Perhaps, with 41 significant military conflicts on-going, the world needs to reassess leadership, at work and in politics, and start to value that “quiet” leader.

Perhaps, with around 41 significant military conflicts on-going, the world needs to reassess leadership at work and in politics

Contact: www.leadersforleadership. 75 75

29/09/2014 16:48


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29/09/2014 13:17

PEOPLE Gender balance in the workplace

Striking the balance Fay Sharpe, managing director of Zibrant, explores why you should promote gender parity in the workplace


ast month, the CBI announced that the UK is currently on track to meet its target of 25% of female directors on FTSE 100 boards by 2015. Four per cent below target with only a year to go (21.6%), there still seems much work to be done across UK business. Despite this, I believe that companies can, and do want to do more to ensure gender parity in the workplace. One concern that seems to be raised across UK business is the difficulty of introducing programmes to foster gender equality. I can appreciate a dynamic shift in office culture is never easy, especially if the status quo mentality has been institutionalised within the company historically. Any change is going to have an effect, but it can so easily be a positive one. This is not a women’s lib thing, and in fact most women simply want to be recognised for what they do , irrespective of gender. This is about keeping talent, and developing and supporting it for the benefit of your business. Bringing female staff on a corporate par with their male colleagues is a long overdue exercise, but it’s not about allfemale shortlists for job roles (in itself illegal), or showing unfair or preferential treatment to one sex or another. Very simple systems can be put in place to guarantee more equality.

For example, the “Think, Act, Report” guidelines (available at provide a simple step-by-step framework to help companies think about gender equality in their workforces, particularly in relation to recruitment, retention, promotion and pay. At Zibrant, women make up 75% of our workforce, so we ensure that they receive fair representation across our senior management (we currently have a 60/40 split female-to-male). Furthermore, our female staff are paid at the same level as their male colleagues, which is not a difficult practice, but one that is unfortunately not replicated across the UK. Another excuse that senior management seems to find, and one which concerns me, is the implication that women who decide to have families cannot devote themselves professionally. I was on the receiving end of such a comment early on in my career and I have striven since to introduce practices that make it entirely possible for women to balance the personal and professional. By introducing flexible working, family credits and workfrom-home schemes, I have been able to retain my most talented staff, and encouraged fidelity and integrity in the company through an empathetic approach. Rhetoric is one thing, but actively offering a pro-women business structure is another. It requires encouraging self-motivation in female staff, but also reassuring all members of your team that they have equality of opportunity, and will be judged on their merits as opposed to their gender. As such, there is absolutely no reason that models similar to those above cannot be replicated across companies nationwide.

This is not a women’s lib thing, and most women simply want to be recognised for what they do, irrespective of gender

Contact: 77 77

29/09/2014 16:55

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29/09/2014 13:19


Get some much needed




(That's recruitment and retention) This month, HR Insight's Richard Cummings asks; "Does your business have an Employee Value Proposition?"


he recession is over! Employees who have been stuck in the same role since 2008 are seeking new opportunities, and employers with ambitious growth plans are seeking the best candidates. Recruitment campaigns will find them, but what can you do to entice the best? Business leaders will recognise that developing a clear and compelling client or customer value proposition is a very important stage in understanding how to market the product or service being offered. After all, how can you sell a product or service if you can’t articulate its value? The same applies when it comes to attracting and retaining the right kind of employees. What makes potential employees want to work for your business rather than a competitor’s? Developing an

Employee Value Proposition (EVP) can help you market your business as an employer, the same way you would market your product or service to clients.

WHAT IS AN EVP? The EVP defines the value an employee gets from working for a particular employer. It encompasses and articulates every aspect of the employment experience, from the business mission and values to its culture and people, and its total reward packages.

HOW DO WE CREATE OUR EVP? There are some clear steps to follow to help you understand what your employees feel constitutes a great place to work: • Tap into information you may already have, such as data from staff surveys. • Create a bespoke survey to elicit what is important to the different types of people that you want to attract and engage. • Analyse the data. • Create a draft EVP. • Test the draft via focus groups. • Create final EVP. Although there are some clear steps to work through, it will take time, effort and commitment to work through these steps so

it’s essential to have the correct resources leading the project.

DO WE REALLY NEED AN EVP? It is widely reported that ‘Generation Y’ - born in the 1980s to mid-90s and the ‘Millennials’ - born from the mid-90s onwards - have the broadest horizons of any generation. They are tech-savvy and connected - to one another, brands, employers and the rest of the world in a way previous generations do not always appreciate, and their expectations of employers are certainly more complex than just paying a decent salary. If this all seems too much like hard work and you simply don’t have the time or resources to invest in creating an EVP, the tips below should go some way to helping your business attract ,and keep, talented employees: • Think about the reward package you’re offering for key roles - is it competitive? Will it attract the right people? • Check your recruitment and onboarding process - is it a good experience? Ask recent recruits. • Keep an eye on employee turnover - collect and analyse the data from regretted losses.

What makes potential employees want work for your business rather than a competitor’s?

Contact: www. 79 79

29/09/2014 16:53

PEOPLE Secret diary

Secret diary of an entrepreneur Henry Williams, managing director of award-winning Williams Automobiles, a luxury car dealership for prestige brands including Morgan and Lotus, racing car driver, and the Federation of Small Businesses’ Young Entrepreneur of the Year 2014, takes us through a typical week in his working life


illiams Automobiles has been in our family for more than 100 years, and I am the fourth generation owner and managing director of the firm. The business was established by my great grandfather, Harry Williams, a true entrepreneur who ran a highly successful horse and cart business in the early 1900s. His friends thought he had gone completely mad when he bought his first car, a Belsize, in 1911, urging him to stick to horses and carts. But Harry, like all good entrepreneurs, listened to his gut and stuck to his guns. His

friends were left eating humble pie when he quickly sold his first car for a handsome profit and Williams Automobiles was born. The business has survived world wars, economic downturns, and major technological and social changes. Let me take you through a week in the life of the company in the 21st Century.

DAY ONE GETTING PRIORITIES STRAIGHT With a significant proportion of our business revenue derived from exports to overseas markets such as China, Australia and New Zealand, one of my first tasks in the morning when I get into the office (once I’ve put the coffee

on, of course) is to deal with any emails that have come in overnight. These can be anything from speculative enquiries from first-time customers looking to buy their own custom-built sports car, to existing clients ordering spare parts for their cherished Morgan cars, to advising overseas clients on essential import paperwork, or organising exclusive, private factory tours. Once I’ve dealt with emails and managed to clear my inbox as much as possible, my next priority is to have ‘work in progress’ meetings for our car parts and accessories business and the workshops. It’s important that I know exactly what is going on

When you love what you do and are passionate about it, work never feels like a chore but a way of life

80 October 2014 80

29/09/2014 16:50

PEOPLE Secret diary

throughout the business to ensure it is running smoothly. I also make sure I’ve reviewed all our sales orders and integrated all new customer purchases into our busy workshop production schedules.

DAY TWO GOING HELL FOR LEATHER! In the latter part of 2013, it became very evident that there was a significant market for high quality leather trim items and luggage accessories for Morgan cars, as well as totally bespoke leather interiors. We appointed a highly skilled leather trimmer and invested in a professional trim and leather goods workshop. Today, I’m taking a close look at our leather trim and in-car accessories operations to ensure manufacturing operations are on schedule. We’ve invested a lot in this growing side of the business and I am determined to

maximise the potential. I hold a team brainstorm to generate new ideas to extend our product range, and in the afternoon, I have several appointments with manufacturers of metal, leather and tuning parts to discuss further developments and future innovations. I get home late and, after a quick meal, fire up my laptop and spend a couple of hours updating our Facebook pages with photographs of some of our latest new stock.

DAY THREE SPANNING INTERNATIONAL BORDERS As a business owner, I am passionate about developing people and giving staff the opportunity to progress. We now employ four graduates who were previously unemployed, trained them up, and they are now succeeding and making a great contribution to the business. We currently have a young graduate from China working with us, learning the ropes of the car business. I spend some time with him, providing support and assistance on this week’s projects to improve his learning, which he can then take back to our Chinese franchise. I then spend much of the day in my office on the phone – there’s a bit of troubleshooting to do as there are a couple of supply and warranty issues that I need to sort out with manufacturers, and I have several key customers requiring upgrades to their cars.

DAY FOUR SPEAK UP Today is a busy day as I am presenting at Automotive Management’s annual Digital Dealer conference in Warwickshire aimed at helping car dealerships improve their online sales strategies to keep pace with today’s tech-savvy, connected consumers. We are renowned in the car industry for how we use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and online chat forums to connect with, and really engage with potential and existing customers

and car enthusiasts throughout the world. I feel proud to be asked to speak at this highprofile event and pass on our knowledge to others.

DAY FIVE NEVER A DULL MOMENT It’s been a busy week and it is hard to believe it is Friday already! However, no time to think about the weekend as I’m off to the Morgan factory in Malvern this morning for a meeting to discuss an operating problem for one of our global franchises. On my return to the office, I decide to roll up my sleeves and help detail a couple of the sales cars as the team has been rushed off their feet with new orders in my absence. Towards the end of the day, I get the chance to arrange professional photography for some of our latest stock to upload to our website, and I also manage to talk to

We currently have a young graduate from China working with us, learning the ropes of the car business, which he can then take back to our Chinese franchise

every member of our small team, thank them for their hard work, and update them on what’s been happening in the business. I don’t think I’ve ever quite got to the bottom of my to-do list as there is always something that needs to be done, but when you love what you do and are passionate about it, work never feels like a chore but a way of life. Contact: 81 81

29/09/2014 16:51

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29/09/2014 13:21

PEOPLE Lee McQueen

The grass isn’t always greener Lee McQueen, founder of the Raw Talent Academy and season-four winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice, says it’s important to take your time when it comes to looking for a new lease


lease for your business is usually one of your biggest overheads - but you need to consider more than just its financial implications. When you sign a lease, you are committing to a specific workplace for a fixed period. Finding the right place is as much about getting the right environment as it is about cost. Using a football analogy, it’s a bit like when a club moves to a new stadium. Arsenal used to play at Highbury, which was an old ground with a great atmosphere, but now they’ve moved to the Emirates. There’s no doubt that the Emirates is fantastic - it’s bigger, newer and shinier - but it also has a completely different environment. Because of that, some fans still miss Highbury. If you’ve got a sales floor in your business, how will that be impacted when you move? Will you be breaking up a strong working environment? Will a

move be detrimental to your staff? Think about this before signing a new lease. Also think about things such as having an on-site cafeteria or being near shops. These little things can be the difference between people being happy at work or just being okay. There are also the financial implications, of course. If you sign a five-year lease but then have a difficult period, you could get stuck with a lease that you can’t manage. On the other hand, if you do very well and decide to sell your business, you won’t want to have a long-term agreement hanging over you, because it won’t be very attractive to potential buyers. It can be a bit of a gamble because you never know for sure where your business will be in a few years’ time. So I think the biggest piece of advice I’d give is try to maximise your current space for as long as possible. It can be tough to stay put until you

are at bursting point, but it’s important not to move to a new base before you need to. That’s the situation I find myself in with my business at the moment. Because we have grown so much, we are thinking about moving somewhere bigger, but I have decided to stay put for another few months. When we do move, we’ll try to negotiate. Landlords can be flexible, and there are deals to be done. Property is at a premium, but there are a lot of empty offices, and that means landlords are not getting rent from their properties. If they’ve got blocks that can house several businesses, they will be keen to get at least one tenant in so it’s more attractive for others to follow. There is scope to negotiate when looking for a new lease although quite how good I’ll be at it is a different matter!

It can be tough to stay put until you are at bursting point, but it’s important not to move to a new base before you need to

Contact: 83 83

29/09/2014 16:52

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A SPACE FOR PRODUCTIVE CONVERSATION Conversations can spark ideas, develop plans and drive sales, which is why meetings have such a vital role to play. Whether it’s a confidential one-to-one or a lively group debate, a secure, professional environment is often conducive to a successful meeting. Meeting in a neutral environment away from the hum of computers and the ring-ring of the telephone, you can focus fully on the task at hand. Take control of your meeting atmosphere by renting a meeting space, you can take advantage of the professional, relaxing environment it affords. Renting a professional meeting room will allow businesses to make better use of meeting times making them productive, efficient and rewarding. Select a seating style that suits the number of attendees and creates exactly the atmosphere you want, choose from these options: Theatre




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23/09/2014 15:45

PEOPLE Setting a vision

Set sail for success Management guru, Marielena Sabatier, CEO of Inspiring Potential, explores how to set the goals of your company and get employees to buy into them

“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.”


One way of ensuring values are embedded in the culture is to set them as part of an employee’s individual performance development plans

hat’s how US clergyman and leadership guru, John C Maxwell put it. We all know that good leaders set the direction for a company, but how do they define their mission in the first place, and set the right goals for their business? To create a compelling vision, leaders need to think big, using plenty of imagination and creativity to consider the future business strategy. Part of the process of establishing the vision could involve imagining the business without any boundaries, limitations or financial constraints; what would it look like? What new products and services could be offered to customers? What are customers saying about the company and how do employees feel about their work? This creative exercise can be vital in helping to shape the strategic planning process. Even if some of the suggestions may not be realistic, imagining a company without any barriers or obstacles could lead to future innovation or to changes in

the business that could deliver genuine improvements. Once the big picture is identified, a more achievable vision is then created by taking into account the current situation and addressing any obstacles. Equally important is involving the senior management team in this creative process. If a vision is co-created and collective, with support from the top team from day one, it is more likely to be adopted across the organisation. With a clear vision established, it’s important to look at what specific goals are needed to achieve the vision. Unlike the vision, the goals will need to clear, purposeful, realistic and measurable. This is also the time to consider what values are most important to the business and what behaviours are expected as the norm from employees. These values need to be embedded in the culture, but for this to happen they must also be reflected in the behaviour of the leader at all times – the leader needs to show the way and clearly demonstrate what is expected. As management

guru and best-selling author, Stephen Covey says, “What you do has far greater impact than what you say”. One way of ensuring values are embedded in the culture and that goals are achieved, is to set them as part of an employee’s individual performance development plans. For example, if there are financial goals, they can be measured at quarterly reviews. With a clear vision and goals set, communication is vital. Leaders need to clearly and consistently communicate the company’s vision and business goals at every opportunity. This sounds obvious, but is something many companies do poorly - or fail to do at all. It goes without saying that if your workforce doesn’t know where it’s going, it can’t be expected to get there. Creating a compelling and believable vision will motivate your workforce, and you will be far more likely to achieve your goals. Contact:

86 October 2014 86

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PEOPLE The equality quiz

You wouldn't Adam and Eve it! In an age of sexual discrimination lawsuits and supposed equality, we ask “Does your business show gender bias?” Answer the questions below, tally up your score, and then find out your result at the end of the quiz. 1 What percentage of females makes up your company’s board/management? a Under 25% (3 pts) b 25-50% (2 pts) c 50%-75% (1 pt) d 75% or more (0 pts) 2 What is your company’s paternity leave policy? a More than two weeks paid (0 pts) b Up to two weeks paid (2 pts) c Two weeks paid with additional unpaid (1 pt) d Up to two weeks unpaid (3 pts) 3 Does your company provide equal pay for the same role, regardless of gender? a Mostly, but there are exceptions (2 pts) b No (3 pts) c Yes, always (0 pts) d I’m not sure (1 pt) 4 One of your male employees confides in you that a female colleague groped him in front of a group as a joke, and it made him uncomfortable. Do you: a Call a meeting of the entire staff and go over the company’s sexual harassment policy. (1 pt)

b Open disciplinary proceedings to find out who it was, and punish them as anything of this nature is totally unacceptable (0 pts) c What’s the fuss? It was just a joke, right? (3 pts) d Explain that it was just a joke to the male employee, and they should take it with a pinch of salt, but call in the offender to a meeting and make them apologise (2 pts) 5 You overhear a female employee saying that she is going to wear a revealing outfit on a sales visit to seal a deal with a male client. Do you: a Let it slide - we need the sales after all, so who cares how we get them? (3 pts) b Call the employee into your office, give her a stern telling off and re-assign the client to someone else (1 pt) c Let it go this time, but have a quiet word afterwards that this kind of behaviour is inappropriate (2 pts) d Gather the entire sales staff, discuss what constitutes proper behaviour for all employees and introduce a new, appropriate dress code (0 pts)

88 October 2014 88

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PEOPLE The equality quiz

Your score: 0-5 Excellent!

Your company is a veritable hive of equality. The Suffragettes would be proud. Keep up the good work. But remember, equality doesn’t just mean making sure women are treated the same as men - men have the right to be treated the same as women too!

6-10 Not bad, but there is still work to do!

An equal pay structure, if you don’t already have one, is a great place to start. People talk, and without one, you not only risk upsetting both the male and female factions of your organisation, but you could also find yourself served with legal proceedings - costing you far more than just paying equally may have done in the first place.

11 or more Oh dear. You need to shape up - and quickly!

Your company values equality about as much as Vladimir Putin values honesty. It might be working out for you on the bottom line right now, but there is a storm brewing that will not only cost you legal fees, but also your employees, and cause a lot of headaches! Get to work on changing that attitude now. You could introduce better paternity and maternity options (such as shared leave), or even enrol employees on sexual harassment awareness training courses. 89 89

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Whether you’re going for a quick few to unwind after work with colleagues, or you have an important meeting with a client you need to impress, the first step to success is looking and feeling good. This month we’ve found a few gems that we love, and will help you look your dapper best when out and about

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29/09/2014 17:05

LIFESTYLE Hotspots - Darlington and Newcastle

Hotspots This month, we make our way to the North East to source the best places to eat, greet and lay your head - in Darlington and Newcastle

AWAY ON BUSINESS ROCKLIFFE HALL HOTEL, GOLF & SPA RESORT Where? Darlington. Why? If you’ve ever contemplated the difference between a four-star and a five-star hotel, a stay at Rockliffe Hall Hotel will set you straight. From the moment you arrive, you are priority number one. Taking your bags at arrival and parking your car for you might seem trivial, but it sets the tone for your stay. Once you get to your room, the wow-factor really kicks in. Parquet wood floors, elegant mood lighting, a huge wall-mounted television, and a private balcony with views across the golf course and countryside are just some of the features in these generous and chic rooms that enhance the overall grandeur of the hotel. The spa at Rockliffe Hall is a particular highlight, and enables the hotel to reach the upper echelon of top hotels in the UK. With a well-equipped gym, 20-metre swimming pool, and a juice bar adjacent, you can get a healthy workout, but to really get some R&R, visit the exquisite spa area. With a tepidarium, foot spas, igloo, a fantastic range of treatments, and a whole

smorgasbord of jets and fountains designed to massage and mould your aches and pains, you can unwind and forget the stresses of work - even if it is just for a short period of time. If you’re feeling peckish, then you certainly won’t be disappointed in any of the hotel’s three eateries either. Whether you want a full complement of courses or just a bite to eat, there’s a great selection of succulent steaks, fresh fish and other delights, all cooked to perfection by top chefs. With prices starting from an incredibly reasonable £175 per night, Rockliffe Hall is the perfect choice for a stay that you’ll remember for a long time. Contact:

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LIFESTYLE Hotspots - Darlington and Newcastle

EVENTS, GATHERINGS & HUBS BEAMISH WILD Where? Beamish, Country Durham. Why? Bring your workforce closer together and instil a culture of solidarity with the high-ropes course at Beamish Wild. Set in the treetops of ancient woodland, the course is about two hours of non-stop fun and challenges, guaranteed to get your adrenaline pumping. They’ve packed a fun day out into the treetops, which includes four zip-wires, rope bridges, swinging tires and the nerve-inducing free-fall experience. There are perhaps a handful of other similar offerings across the country, but the real enthusiasm that the staff effuse lifts Beamish Wild above the crowd. In particular, site manager, Alex Tocu displays a real passion for the venue and helps corporate staff members to not only push their boundaries, but to also discover new things about themselves and their co-workers. Ultimately, Beamish Wild is a whole host of fun and an excuse to get down and dirty whilst dropping the office facade that often prevents colleagues from letting their guard down. Not only will you emerge having discovered something about yourself, you’ll also have a happy and harmonious team to power your business forward. Contact:

MEET AND EAT THE STABLES PUB AND RESTAURANT Where? Beamish, County Durham (near Newcastle). Why? Whilst the hotel offering - Beamish Hall - is everything you would expect of a classic hotel chain such as Best Western, and provides a great place to lay your head, the real piece de resistance is The Stables restaurant. Housed within the building of the former stables from back when Beamish Hall was a privately-owned 12th Century country house, and decorated with remnants from days gone by, the food on offer is

simply sumptuous. Hearty, soulful, northern fare is offered in every mouthful, from the pulled pork “stotties” (that’s bap, batch, cob or bun etc. to the rest of the UK), to the devilishly guilty, sticky toffee pudding, leaving your willpower and any diet in serious trouble. A hidden delight is the micro-brewery, which is also located within the stables building. Using only the finest ingredients and time-honoured methods to produce a range of beers for traditional and modern tastes, its eight popular ales are available to try on site and, for an added treat, you can even take a tour of the brewery itself. Contact: 93 93

29/09/2014 17:01


Leave the office behind October is the new August for savvy travellers


sun, sea and sand holiday during the hectic July/August period invites the distinct possibility of sharing every square metre of swimming pool with a family of five from Blackpool. Charming as they may be, for the savvy package holidaymaker there is a far sweeter spot in the calendar than high summer. This is great news for those of us who have slogged our way through the summer months, still to set a flip-flopped foot on foreign sand. The latest deals from suggest that booking a late holiday in October could prove one of the shrewdest investments we make all year. October is the end of the summer season for most tour operators and hotels in Europe’s top resorts. As they begin to wind down for the winter, package holiday prices for late summer sunshine take a nice dip into the shallow end of their original brochure value.

Shops and businesses within the resorts are also squeezing the last few euros from their late summer visitors, so are much more likely to be flexible with their prices. Time to get your lucky bartering pants on! Snapping up these late summer deals can save you a bucket (and spade) load of cash, and in exchange, all you give up is a few degrees on the temperature scale. Seems like a fair trade, right? THIS MONTH’S SPOTLIGHT DESTINATION: BODRUM, TURKEY WHY? Bodrum is becoming more and more popular with British tourists thanks to its relatively short flight time and cheap food and drink. It also gets an average of nine hours sunlight and temperatures well into the 20s during October. WHAT TO DO? Anyone visiting the city must take in the spectacular Bodrum Castle. Built from 1402 onwards, by the

Businesses within resorts are squeezing the last few euros from their late summer visitors, so are more likely to be flexible on price. Time to get your lucky bartering pants on!”

94 October 2014 94

29/09/2014 17:03


Don’t fancy Bodrum? Then why not try:

Knights of St John as the Castle of St Peter or Petronium, the castle features two restored shipwrecks that date back more than 900 years. Couple that with great sea views and spooky dungeons, and you’ve got a recipe for a cultural adventure. Food and drink are also plentiful and cheap, with the average pint costing under £2. FUN FACT: The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, constructed between 353 and 350BC for the city’s ruler, Mausollosis (also where the word “mausoleum” comes from), is considered as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Save a whopping 50% off the price of 14 nights in Menorca, staying at the self-catering Mestral and Llebeig Apartments for just £199pp. Flights depart from Stansted Airport on 17 October for two weeks of warm Balearic sun, sea and sand.

Save 59% on a week in Crete, where you can expect temperatures to rise to the mid-20s and rarely fall below 16 degrees.


TOP DEALS: Bodrum Beach Resort is a threestar hotel in the popular Turkish coastal resort. A seven-night, all inclusive deal departing from Manchester on 16 October is just £244pp, a saving of 48% on the original brochure price.


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How do I know if my sales team need training?


nless you believe your sales team are no longer required and you have gained as much new business as you can possibly handle forever, there is always an opportunity to improve the skills and motivation they possess. When looking to understand what type of training they could benefit from you should consider three specific areas. Training related to their selling skills, behaviour/attitude enhancement and unblocking the emotional barriers to selling. There are a number of methods of identifying sales skills deficiency ranging from “the kerb side chat” between the sales person and their manager after a sales visit. It is important that the sales manager themselves have developed an understanding as to how to positively critique their employee and is equipped with a knowledge of the appropriate range of competencies that their “protégé” should possess. In addition the sales manager should have a systemised approach to assessment, joint review of skills and follow up process. The prime method of assessing sales skills is through the use of a competency framework. This “gap analysis” approach enables a standardised, benchmarked appraisal which is both fair and consistent across all employees. When coupled with a system that records current, desired and aspirational competence levels, a personal development plan (PDP) can be developed. If you want

your staff development approach to be truly integrated, effective and efficient then each competent statement should be linked to relevant training interventions, of which there are a wide range addressing most learning styles and personalities. Turning to attitude and motivation leads us into a very emotive and subjective area. Obviously one should consider the use of psychometric assessments which can now be accessed easily and cheaply online, for example Thomas International (DISC Profile). Psychometric tests however do not fully surface behavioural development needs, they only point to areas that may need to be addressed or underlying issues. There is no real substitute for an empathetic close relationship between you and your staff. Demotivating factors can be talked about and addressed in a positive manner. The final area of training that should be considered is related to the emotional barriers which effect every sales person. These range from the stigma attached to the sales profession, fear of rejection, stage fright when presenting to audiences and fear of failure when closing the sale. Fortunately there are assessment methods and training/coaching approaches which can be used arguably to increase sales performance by up to 50%. Thus far we have addressed an individualised approach to development, but one of the most overlooked areas in the

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sales function is the synergistic benefits available to the team. A good manager will firstly seek to ensure the sales task, “hitting the numbers”, is achieved. They will then look at the individual satisfaction via personal development of each team member. However, it is the transformational leader who moulds his team into a winning unit. This is achieved through problem sharing and resolution, team motivation, challenge and celebration. Team building and the interaction of sales teams is one of the most overlooked areas in sales team development.

What are the top five open ended sales questions to ask? • How has your day been so far? (rapport building is fundamental to success). • What challenges are you facing that could benefit from a different perspective? • That’s interesting, why do you say that? (probing on key points helps uncover true motives/objections). • If you could address that issue what would it really mean to you? (helps to ascertain the true value of your proposition). • Who else in your organisation would benefit from contributing to this discussion? (helps to understand the total buying unit and key decision makers).


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23/09/2014 16:37


Teach a man to fish Being a guide during the start-up storm can be treacherous. Techstars’ Jon Bradford tackles the nuances of being a successful mentor


entorship and accelerators are all the fashion today. At Techstars we put mentors front, middle and centre in everything we do. It is our strong opinion that the right mentorship can be massively impactful. But what is it to be a mentor and what should you expect from mentorship? Just three years ago, Techstars prepared a Mentor Manifesto, which outlines some of the key principles that we expect of our mentors - and against which they are assessed. I have not listed all of them - you can find the original blog post by searching for “Mentor Manifesto” but I have drawn out a few for this blog post.

BE SOCRATIC AND ASK QUESTIONS But it’s not just the act of asking questions, it’s how you ask questions, what you try to accomplish with the questions, and what your responses to the answers are.

EXPECT NOTHING IN RETURN (You’ll be delighted with what you do get back). Mentorship is a two-way street, and when done properly it exposes you to new ideas and practises and can be massively fulfilling.

BE DIRECT Tell the truth, however hard. This is actually harder than

you might consider. If you care about the person and the company you are mentoring, being direct without being hurtful can be difficult - but it is ultimately beneficial to them.

LISTEN TOO There’s an old Irish proverb; “God gave us two ears and one mouth, so we ought to listen twice as much as we speak”. There is a lot of truth in that.

CLEARLY SEPARATE OPINION FROM FACT As entrepreneurs, we are highly opinionated and will regularly talk about any given topic under the sun (see below). It is dangerous for the person being mentored not to know whether your statements are based on anecdotal information or hard facts. There is the potential that teams might make decisions based on what you tell them.


If you care about the person you are mentoring, being direct without being hurtful can be difficult, but ultimately it’s beneficial to them

KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW Say “I don’t know” when you don’t know. “I don’t know” is preferable to bravado - you are not expected to know everything.

GUIDE, DON’T CONTROL Teams must make their own decisions. Guide, but never tell them what to do. Understand that it’s their company, not yours. Teams are like children - it might be easy to tell them what to do, but they will never learn from that.


When you are not there what will they do? The process of teaching a team to think their way through a problem is more important than the problem itself. As they say; “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.” Finally, have empathy. Remember that start-ups are hard. Sometimes for a team, just knowing that what they are going through is not unusual, and having a sympathetic person to speak to, can be good therapy. 101

29/09/2014 17:11

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TECHNOLOGY How to pick a domain name

What's in a name? Getting the right domain name for your business is vital. Simon Yeoman, general manager at Fasthosts Internet Ltd, gives his top tips to choosing yours


domain is not only a name for your website. Nowadays, it is a key marketing element for success. However, domain names are often chosen in haste at the start of a business venture and are rarely revised. The online address for a business, your domain is the first bit of insight a consumer has into your business, so it’s important to get it spot on, give the right impression of your business, and capture a customer between the www and the dots.

Website visitors often misspell words, switch or miss letters. Check how your domain name could be misspelled and consider securing these as additional domains


TOP TIPS TO STRUCTURE YOUR DOMAIN To begin, you’d be wise to consider these four points before making any decisions: 1 Keep it short and simple There’s nothing worse than a long domain, which is difficult to remember. By simplifying your domain and making it memorable, it will be much easier for consumers to find you online. 2 Personalise it By including your business name within your domain, customers can immediately identify you. 3 Be creative It’s not a bad thing to be creative. In fact, consumers are more likely to remember a name that is different and stands out. With the new domains there are endless opportunities for businesses to present themselves online. 4 Be search engine friendly The inclusion of important keywords within your domain name can help search engines find you more easily. 103

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TECHNOLOGY How to pick a domain name

BE EASILY IDENTIFIABLE The inclusion of your business name, type or location within your web address can help consumers relate immediately to your business. Currently, newly created businesses can sometimes find reduced options to register their desired name, as many have already been taken.

PROTECT YOUR BRAND Domain names are now valuable online real estate. Always register your full company name, and also a clear abbreviation of it. It may also be wise to register names for your key products or services before your competitors do. Many UK businesses will be motivated to purchase the new domains in order to protect themselves from cybersquatting or infringement. However, SMEs need only think about which domains could have the most value in building on their online identity and make sensible, sustainable selections.

CONSIDER PEOPLE AND SEARCH ENGINES Always aim for a catchy name that is easy to remember and pass on verbally. For longer names, use hyphens to improve readability. Website visitors often misspell words, switch or miss letters. Check how your domain name could be misspelled, and consider securing these as additional domains. Local search engine listings are increasingly of high importance to small firms. The more keywords referenced in your domain name, the more search engines will rate your website and position it higher in results, which leads to more visitors.


For example, an eatery can use a .restaurant, .pizza, .pub, or .coffee domain ending to specify their offerings. A tradesman might consider using a .plumbing, .construction or .builders to reflect their trade. These domains are a great way for firms to secure their brand names and relevance to a subject. As more nTLDs launch in the coming months, small companies will have time to explore the possibilities, and build up online identity. Trade domains are, in time, expected to speed up consumer search results for subjects, and make it far easier to identify a relevant business from its name. SMEs should focus on the huge new opportunities they have to make enhancements, however modest, to their web identity.

EMBRACE GEOGRAPHIC LOCATION For many firms, geographical identity can be a powerful benefit on the internet. Research shows strong consumer demand for regional web identity within the British Isles - 58% overall, with the strongest being from Scottish consumers, where 71% admit they are more likely to buy from a firm that used a .scot web address. 44% of Welsh consumers already expect the use of .wales domains to speed up their searches for local businesses. Fasthosts is experiencing strong demand for .london, which achieved a total of 35,000 registrations on the first day of general availability. Both .scot and .wales are well into their launch campaigns. In time. the

majority of firms could benefit from reflecting both their local identity, such as their city or county name, as well as their trade identity such as .plumbing, .restaurant or .construction.

OVERALL All domain names need to be conducive to your company branding, sales and communication plans. Today, established domains such as and .com remain the most trusted by UK consumers and are important for being recognisable worldwide. The strong growth of emerging domain options will mean that businesses should now consider their domain options carefully, however there is no need to panic or be alarmed. Overall, new domain types will mean a less crowded internet for everyone, as there will be a far greater range of options for an internet address. For business owners, there are many new avenues for capturing relevant traffic and developing their digital branding.

Research shows 71% of Scottish consumers admit they are more likely to buy from a firm that used a .scot web address


In recent months we have begun to see the release of new Top-Level Domains (nTLDs), changing the digital landscape and the way businesses can now present themselves online.

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29/09/2014 17:14


Need I.T. support from a reputable and reliable company?

Talk to your local Computer Troubleshooters franchisee.


omputer Troubleshooters is the largest international network of locally owned and operated IT service franchise offices. Launched in 1997, Computer Troubleshooters has more than 400 franchise locations worldwide in over 28 countries. Over the past 15 years we have grown and evolved with the IT Services industry to provide our clients with cutting edge products and solutions tailored to fit the unique needs of small businesses and residential clients. Our franchise owners are technology experts and have access to the resources of a large international company, giving them the ability to offer their clients customised technology solutions, products and competitive pricing. However, since they are locally owned and operated, they can focus on delivering the highest level of personalised local service and building a long term trusted relationship.

If you are a business owner or manager looking for technology solutions that help your business be efficient and ahead of your competition, visit www. to learn more about many of the services we offer. Remember, each office is locally owned and operated and will have a list of the specific services they offer. Your local Computer Troubleshooters is the best choice for reliable and affordable services that are tailored to fit your specific needs. Every Computer Troubleshooters office is locally owned and operated and dedicated to offering the highest level of customer service and industry leading products and services. Your local technicians are backed by the power of the global network of technology professionals and are committed to successfully supporting every client.

Work for yourself but not by yourself! Become a Computer Troubleshooters franchisee. See our web site at computertroubleshooters. for more details.

Your business..... Our Support Our Solutions...... Your Success! L O C A L


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25/09/2014 10:39



Tech Review

Each month we give Ortis Deley, from Channel 5’s The Gadget Show, a gorgeous piece of tech to test drive. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, he’ll give you the lowdown on the best gadgets money can buy OPPO PM-1 PLANAR MAGNETIC HEADPHONES PRICE: £1,099 BUY FROM: WWW.OPPODIGITAL.CO.UK


knew the moment I opened the box that I was dealing with a highly precious bit of kit. Off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you another set of headphones that are as expensive. The Oppo Planar Magnetic PM-1 headphones weigh in at around £1,100 and the packaging itself only served to reinforce my feeling of reverence. Unlike most headphones, the PM-1s use a planar magnetic driver to generate sounds - as opposed to the more commonly utilised dynamic drivers. This means they are relatively light in construction (an advantage of ditching the more traditional speaker construction of heavier moving coil or dome diaphragms). They come in an understated retro black leather/chrome with lashings of the former, and their adjustable moving parts glided/ clicked/moved effortlessly. Oh, and you have a choice between leather and velour earpads.

Now, I wasn’t going to do these headphones the injustice of just plugging them into my smartphone - oh no! For these, I broke out the vinyl and converted a handful of CDs to FLAC and lossless .wav files. I tried to make the music selection as broad as possible (within the confines of my music collection, you understand):

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You can get your hands on a pair of Oppo PM-1 Planar Magnetic headphones at

The Seldom Seen Kid [Live] - Elbow & The BBC Concert Orchestra AM - Arctic Monkeys Man of Steel Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Hans Zimmer GIRL - Pharrell Williams Lifted - Aloe Blacc Music for a Gilted Generation - The Prodigy Thriller - Michael Jackson (vinyl) Rump Shaker - Wreckx-n-Effect (vinyl) Listening to Elbow’s live album and the Arctic Monkeys, I was struck by how warm the tones were and, although I’m a fan of bass, the balance between the frequencies felt so perfect, I didn’t miss it. I felt as though each of the instruments being played wasn’t being overpowered by any of the others in the production. That said, the music felt alive and not produced; it was almost breathed into my ears. The palpable rumbles on the Man of Steel soundtrack were delicious. It didn’t quite sound as though the artists were in my living room, but it’s the best I’ve heard my music through cans. It’s worth noting that the Oppos didn’t

seem to be a fan of FLAC files, but sounded amazing on .wav, vinyl (Thriller sounded epic) and .mp3. The more orchestral, live, acoustic tracks were more of a joy to listen to. The electronic tracks from Pharrell and The Prodigy felt tempered and less frenetic. The bass was present, it just wasn’t crushing everything in its path. It would seem the PM-1 headphones are not fans of dance/electronics. It took me a little by surprise when my wife spoke to, rather than shouted at me when she wanted to know how much longer I’d be hogging the amp (it’s connected to our media centre). The open back design is great for sound generation, but offers inadequate isolation. Also, leakage is a problem with these - I wouldn’t recommended them for commuter or office listening, as there is no concealing your choice of music and any annoying looks or embarrassment that may come your way as a result of ‘sharing’.


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The music felt alive and not produced; it was almost breathed into my ears

There’s little doubt that the Oppo PM-1 headphones are for real music lovers - emphasis on real music. It’s almost as though they were built to caress and not batter your hearing senses; at any volume level, distortion was almost unobtainable! If you’re going to listen to that bedroom-produced, over-produced urban youthorientated noise, these are most definitely not for you. As for the price: well, if you’re a true music fan, you’ll find a way... right? Do you have a product that you would like Ortis to review? Get in touch at 107

29/09/2014 17:21

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30/09/2014 11:45


I’ve got an APP for that This month, we’re looking at apps that personalise your hotel searches across the globe, and GPS tracking that calculates and keeps track of your fuel expenses TOP10 HOTELS


Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS The gist: Travelling can be strenuous at the best of times and finding the perfect hotel often feels like an impossible chore. Enter Top10 Hotels. The app makes choosing accommodation in an unfamiliar city easier by allowing you to search for the kind of hotel you’d like (boutique, budget, business, luxury, etc.) in any city in the world , and then produces a personalised top 10 list. With star ratings, guest reviews and a guest score, you can’t go wrong. Not just great for business excursions, get away from the hustle and bustle of working life by letting the app find your perfect room at the perfect price with live deals from the top hotel booking companies. As an added bonus, it also provides a ‘trending’ category, which uncovers hotels that are popular on social networks. Downloadable from: www.

Price: FREE Compatibility: iOS The gist: Don’t mess around with multiple receipts at the end of the month anymore, trying to work out how many miles you’ve done and at what cost, in order to claim back your expenses. Winner of the 2014 Best Mobile App Award for Best Mobile App User Interface (2014 Best Mobile App Awards), EasyBiz allows you to set the price of your fuel, your miles to the gallon, and then at the push of a button it tracks your route via GPS, from start to finish, as you drive. Once you’re done, it calculates how much your journey cost. You can then see your total fuel expenses for the month and even export that data directly to your boss or accounts department, so there’s no room for disputes or errors. Downloadable from: iTunes store


29/09/2014 17:16

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23/09/2014 16:32


Have you heard? Mike Tomlinson, director of small business at mobile network operator, EE, lists his top 10 apps that you might not have heard of that will help you run your business


espite the enormous impact business apps can have on productivity, many small businesses have yet to realise their full potential. New research from EE found that just 22% of small businesses provide apps for their employees to use at work, despite 37% of employees - equivalent to five million UK workers - believing they would be more productive if they were provided with apps tailored to their job. This could partly be because of the sheer quantity of apps available. Most businesses are familiar with Sage One Accounts, Microsoft Office 365 and Skype, but there are a lot more out there to choose from. Here are ten you may not have heard of:


CARDMUNCH Cardmunch lets users scan business cards on a smartphone, then store the details to their address book and connect to their LinkedIn profile. It saves time and effort involved in building a detailed contact database, and is particularly useful for businesses that network a lot.


MOONFRUIT Moonfruit is a website and webshop creator that helps small businesses build websites that are automatically optimised for web,

tablet and mobile devices, without having to understand complex computer code.


LOGMEIN LogMeIn is a remote login app that lets users access their desktop from any computer with an internet connection, enabling staff members to work from home, on their commute, or while they are out of the office, just as they would if they were in the office.


MOZYPRO MozyPro is an online backup service that saves companies time, money and headaches by syncing files across smartphones, tablets, and computers, helping small businesses to store businesscritical data over the cloud, with packages ranging from 20GB to more than 1TB of storage.


RECEIPT BANK Receipt Bank gathers, stores and processes receipts and invoices directly from a user’s smartphone or tablet when the document is scanned, removing the administrative burden that bills, invoices and receipts place on small businesses.


Legal Manager welcome/legal-manager Legal Manager provides businesses


with legally compliant documents, including sales agreements, property contracts and terms and conditions for websites at a fraction of the cost of employing a law firm.


CREDITHQ CreditHQ is a business credit tool that provides easy-to-use debt management, enabling small businesses to run credit checks, monitor debts and make collections from clients and debtors.


ZENDESK Zendesk is a cloud-hosted customer service management platform, which uses an automated ticketing system to make it as easy as possible for businesses to deal with customer service issues.


CONSTANT CONTACT Constant Contact is a small business marketing suite that enables companies to easily manage new business leads generated by email, events and social media.


WEBEX MOBILE WebEx Mobile enables businesses to schedule and host meetings and web conferences from their mobile, wherever they are. Contact: 111

29/09/2014 17:18

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Show her matching items, VIP rewards and your refer a friend scheme

Precision Marketing Next generation audience profiling from We’re all individuals. Understanding what makes your audience unique allows you to make your email marketing more relevant than ever before.

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From CSS to your best guess:

The A to Z guide to web developer jargon It's easy to be bamboozled by web design jargon when you’re considering investing in a new website. To help you get to grips with the terminology, lead web designer at Daisy Group, Geoff Hoyle, talks you through the programmer’s alphabet A IS FOR ACCESSIBILITY


Websites need to be designed and developed for the use of as many people as possible, including those with disabilities. Good websites remove any barriers that hinder the blind, partially sighted or deaf from accessing information.

Basically, a collection of information stored in a computer in a systematic way. The main use of a database in web design is to power a content management system, storing the content and options of the website.


If you’re a retailer, you’ll probably want your developer to build you an e-commerce website. The term refers to the buying and selling of goods electronically, over a network such as the internet.

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors that enter and leave (bounce) your site via the same page. A high bounce rate indicates that users aren’t inclined to navigate around the rest of your site.



The parts of your site that visitors can directly access, Cascading Style such as web pages, images Sheets (CSS) are and content. Unsurprisingly, used to determine the look the opposite of front-end is and formatting of a site. They back-end – the part which is separate content from its design, developed to support the site. ensuring you can easily change the aesthetics of your site in the G IS FOR GOOGLE ANALYTICS future without compromising A powerful tool that analyses its content.



your site and its performance. Metrics, such as site visits, content interaction and bounce rate, are just some of the measurements available to you.

H IS FOR HTML Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is the online language, which web developers use to create your website. It’s a way of editing how text and images are displayed to a visitor on a site.

I IS FOR IP ADDRESS Every device connected to the internet has an Internet Protocol Address (an online version of a home address) that identifies its location on a network.

J IS FOR JAVASCRIPT This is just another computer language that web developers use to add an element of interactivity to your website. Dynamic examples include pop-ups, dropdown menus, and sound effects. 113

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K IS FOR KEYWORD The word(s) people enter into a search engine to find the topic or web page they’re looking for. A good website will contain the keywords that your intended users are looking for to help them find your site.

L IS FOR LANDING PAGE A page where a visitor first accesses your website, either through a PPC (pay-per-click) advert or a search engine result link. Used to effectively direct users to what they are looking for.

M IS FOR META TAG A meta tag is a sentence or two of text, which provides information about a web page, including author, content description and keywords. Search engines use this to determine rankings and index your site appropriately.

N IS FOR NAVIGATION How easy is it for a visitor to navigate around your website? These are a set of links (maybe a drop-down menu) that allows users to move from one page to another. The easier the navigation, the better the site.

O IS FOR OPEN SOURCE Open source is code or software that is released to the public for their own use - free of charge. Mainstream examples of open source software include WordPress (CMS) and Magento (e-commerce).

P IS FOR PAGE RANK This is part of the algorithm used by Google to determine a web page’s importance; your site will be ranked

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on a scale of one to ten. There are many factors that affect the position of your site in search rankings, for example the amount of quality links it has.

Q(A) IS FOR QUALITY ASSURANCE QA usually refers to the testing phase of the development process. Your web team should carry out testing and bug fixing.

R IS FOR REDIRECT This is basically a method of redirecting browsers and search engines to a page that has been moved or relocated for one reason or another. Maybe your URL (see below) has changed.

S is for SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the art of affecting your website’s ranking in a search engine’s results. There are many aspects to SEO, such as building links to your website or inserting copy containing keywords.

T IS FOR TESTING ENVIRONMENT This is where your development team will make a copy of your website - separate from the main site - to develop extra features or test existing issues without the risk of affecting the main site. This is considered good practice when developing a live website.

U IS FOR URL This stands for Uniform Resource Locator. This is your websites address or what people will type in to find content on your website, for example: http://…

V IS FOR VALIDATION Validation is part of the testing process to make sure there are no errors or sections of outdated code in your site. Search engines look favourably on validated websites.

W IS FOR WEB SERVER Web servers are the hardware that do the leg work to find the web page you requested. Every website is hosted by a web server; the more powerful it is, the faster the website speed.

X IS FOR XML Stands for Extensible Markup Language. XML is a specification for creating other, custom markup languages. It’s an extensible language because it allows the user to define the mark-up elements.

Y IS FOR “YES WE CAN!” The beauty of web design and development is that there is a huge community that loves to share information. If your developer is struggling with a problem, chances are a quick internet search will bring up an appropriate resolution.

Z IS FOR ZIP ZIP is a way of storing data in a format that requires less space than usual – basically a computer file that has been compressed. ZIP files are commonly transferred over the internet because they are quick and easy to download over email. Contact:


29/09/2014 17:25

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Does your marketing stand out from the crowd?

Join us this Autumn for a wealth of advice on starting and running a young business – including access to industry experts, specialist advisors and key support services.

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23/09/2014 29/04/2014 15:55 10:20

FRANCHISE Franchise news



First ever UK franchiseeassisted buyout takes place SUBWAY appoints new area development manager for UK & Ireland Australian Greg Madigan takes over the responsibility of developing the fast-food brand in the UK and Ireland


he SUBWAY brand has announced the appointment of Greg Madigan as the new area development manager in the UK and Ireland. Greg joins the SUBWAY team in the UK and Ireland - based at its Cambridge headquarters - as the brand continues to experience strong growth and expansion. Earlier this summer, the SUBWAY brand reached a milestone 1,800 store openings, with a forecourt store with operator Euro Garages in Peterborough. Greg, commented: “I’m really excited to be joining the UK and Ireland team, especially at such an important time for the growth of the brand across the region.” “The SUBWAY brand is very popular, and the team have done a great job in developing the brand to get to 1,800 stores - the largest market in Europe. My job is to help build on this, and facilitate growth, not only with individual and multi-unit franchisees looking to develop their own store portfolio, but also with our corporate partners.” Contact:

The national accountancy network has completed the UK’s first ever franchisee-assisted management buyout


axAssist Accountants, which has a UK-wide network of 190 franchisees, recently completed an MBO, which will see the business 32% owned by franchisees, 53% by the senior management team and 15% by longstanding external business partners. “We believe this is a first in the UK and internationally,” said Karl Sandall, The TaxAssist Group Ltd chief executive. “Franchise operations have been bought by their management teams, but, as far as


Franchisee finalists revealed for bfa Awards


he British Franchise Association (bfa) has announced the finalists of this year’s bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Awards. The finalists run successful businesses all over the country, across a broad range of sectors, representing the very best in British franchising. The 19 finalists impressed as they compete for new and refreshed categories, with winners announced during a black-tie ceremony in Birmingham Town Hall on 2 October. Cathryn Hayes, head of franchising, HSBC, said: “We’ve been astounded by the sheer quality of entries for this year’s awards, now in their 25th year. We have seen excellent entries from a


we are aware, never in partnership with their franchisees. More than half of our network, including franchisees and their staff, have invested in the business, and many more have expressed an interest in buying shares in the future. We’re delighted at the response to this offer and the even closer working partnership it creates for our business.”

Female franchisee and Young franchisee among categories up for grabs

wide range of franchisees, varying in age, region, industries, and more. The refreshed categories have enabled us to recognise the hard work and talent of franchisees from different spheres of business, and we’re looking forward to learning more about them during the judging process.” The overall winner of the bfa HSBC Franchisee of the Year Award will win £10,000. Each category winner will receive £1,000, all courtesy of HSBC. For a full list of finalists, visit 117

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he ZipYard offers a professional tailoring and alterations service in a clean, purpose build environment. Our award winning business is all about outstanding customer service. Whilst there’s no other specialist alterations and tailoring centre in the area there’s numerous businesses offering similar services and competition is great. As the top performing ZipYard and 2012 Franchisee of the Year we have raised a total of 22,500 invoices. Turnover in the first year was £174,500 from 9978 customers. In the 10 months to date of our second year we are at £238,000 from 12,675 customers and on track to hit our target of £274,000 by year end.

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EARLY DAYS As a former driving instructor I was used to dealing with members of the pubic and took pride in my level of service, so when I decided on a career change I already had a very strong customer service ethos. When we first opened it was easy to turn jobs round incredibly quickly. But as word got around and our customer numbers soared, ensuring that customers were happy 100% of the time became more difficult. We soon expanded our team of seamstresses from two to five and now employ eight full time. Working in Cheshire we are dealing with high end customers with high end expectations and it’s a great responsibility working on designer garments sometimes worth over £1,000. Famous footballers and TV celebrities

including Coronation Street actress Sally Dynevor and presenter Gordon Burns bring their garments to us. Everton player Marouane Fellaini is one of our regulars. We once stayed open to fix a black tie for an awards ceremony that evening and he turned up later with chocolates for the girls to say thank you. ADDED VALUE We want our customers to believe that nothing is too much trouble. We don’t charge any extra for the express service and often carry out additional minor repairs for free. If one of the seamstresses notices a button needs replacing whilst they are turning up a hem it takes very little additional time to do the complementary work – and customers are always surprised and delighted.

12/03/2014 10:21

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Frequently people come in off the street with a button that’s just come off – we’ll fix it there and then – again for no charge confident in the knowledge that he or she will regard us as a lifesaver and talk about The ZipYard to others. SYSTEMS The sophisticated till system included as part of the ZipYard package has a customer relationship management feature which tracks customers each time they come in and allows us to make notes. If a regular is getting ready to go on holiday I can input this into the system. Then I can wish them a happy holiday when they pick up the clothes and ask them about it the next time they’re in. Building relationships is paramount– and as a result the average repeat customer visits us about once a month. Some have used us over 200 times spending several thousand pounds. Outstanding customer service means that we have to be prepared to do whatever it takes. Last year a groom and his entire male entourage turned up the day before the wedding in a panic because they had only just discovered their suits were ill fitting. We stayed open through the night to finish the work and to get the party to the church on time and looking their best.

Another customer spent over £400 altering her wardrobe after a successful diet, and an elderly lady brought in all of her clothes to be taken in - all bundled into storage boxes and carried up the high street to us. Nowadays very few people have the time or skill to mend their own clothes –and a lot of our work involves repairs - but even I was surprised when one of our regular customers brought in a pair of her son’s Y fronts for us to fix a tear! For many of our customers we have become their ‘personal’ tailors. One wellheeled man left a message on our answering machine to say his wife was bringing in a ball gown the next day so ‘please leave space on your machine’ for her. They expect a very fast service and we rarely disappoint. A regular moved out of the area but saves up his repairs until he comes back to visit friends – travelling over 160 miles for our quality of service. Grateful customers send flowers, wedding cake, thank you notes and gifts.

THE FUTURE Managing customer expectations isn’t easy and it has been a big challenge for us to be able to turn round work quickly as the volume increases. Recently we dealt with 90 paying customers in one day which is ten an hour! We already open seven days a week and are looking to employ another seamstress to focus full time on express work and have installed a second till to cope with the queues that had begun to form outside the door in busy periods. We are looking ways to extend the range of services we offer including a paid for delivery and collection service which will appeal to our busier user clientele. At the moment I manage ZipYard with the help of one other but I will be recruiting additional customer facing staff to free me up to do more marketing and work on plans to open another ZipYard in the North West.


“To Danuska with eternal thanks. You u saved my day. It means so much more than words could ever say.” - Breeda (bride) We frequently see brides who have bought a dress form the internet. On one occasion a woman came in to the centre in tears with a dress that fitted terribly –by the time we had finished she was parading up and down with a big smile on her face.

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Contact: Emma Downes T: 01530 513307 E: W:

12/03/2014 10:21


The fast food myth Dynamis' Nicky Tatley takes a look at how franchising has moved away from its traditional fast food-orientated roots to encompass offerings from all walks of life today


hen you think of a franchise, a McDonalds or a Subway is likely to spring to mind, so you’d be forgiven for thinking that the industry is dominated by fast food outlets. There was a time when this was true. The earliest franchisors in the UK were J. Lyons & Co, which franchised the hamburger chain, Wimpy in 1955, and ServiceMaster, which began franchising in 1959, and remains a huge international franchise business to this day. The US, of course, trailblazed in the proliferation

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of fast food outlets. The first McDonald’s restaurant was actually a barbecue joint opened in 1940, along California’s famous Route 66, by brothers, Dick and Maurice MacDonald. The brothers streamlined their business practices and menu (including, of course, their best-selling burgers) and the restaurant was first franchised in the early ’50s.

Fast food franchising boomed and by the end of the 1960s some of the most renowned fast food brands (McDonalds, KFC and Burger King) had become international franchises. With a burger shop on every corner and the emergence of drive-thrus, fast food - with its quick and efficient ‘service with a smile’ - steadily wove itself into the fabric of American culture and folklore. The country’s (and indeed the world’s) love of Big Macs, finger-lickin’ chicken, pizza, ribs, subs, fries and shakes ‘to go’ hasn’t waned despite raised public awareness of health and nutrition or sensationalist movies such as Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me”.

In the UK, fast food businesses account for only 5% of opportunities


29/09/2014 17:07


In fact, recent years have seen several US celebrities investing in fast food franchises as a secure investment for their excess millions. Former NBA star, Magic Johnson made the headlines by buying a string of Burger Kings, current R&B superstar, Pharell Williams recently bought several Fatburger franchises in China (all the rooms have roofs as far as we are aware), NFL posterboy, Peyton Manning owns 21 Papa John’s pizza franchises in Denver, and Californian musician, Rick Ross even raps about his Wingstop fried chicken franchises! However, despite the continued success of fast food in the industry, the franchise model is now represented in nearly all recognised business sectors. Data released by the US Census Bureau in 2010 - the first report drawn up by the Bureau that gathered information on franchises -

says that franchises made up 10.5% of business across 295 industries. And in the UK, fast food businesses account for only 5% of opportunities on leading franchise opportunities website, Of the 930 franchise systems in operation in the UK today, the fast food industry has a healthy representation, but it now jostles for attention alongside opportunities in the financial, consulting, training, care, cleaning, children’s entertainment, dating, pet care, event planning, education, fitness, gardening and building maintenance sectors - and the list goes on. In the Entrepreneur 2014 Franchise 500 - the annual ranking of the top franchise opportunities in the US - the top ten included a 24-hour fitness club franchise, a hotel chain, a hairdressing franchise called Supercuts that offers 20-minute haircuts (no

appointments needed), and Servpro - a disaster restoration business for corporate and residential properties. So it is clear that, in the past 20 years, franchising has taken off globally and across all manner of business, with social franchising being its latest incarnation. Taking the basic concepts of commercial franchising to achieve socially beneficial results, this model is becoming a real alternative to standard charitable organisations, providing services such as healthcare and education to the disadvantaged, as well as jobs and prospects for many people in the poorest countries. That’s a far cry from the old franchising empire - where Ronald McDonald and Colonel Sanders reigned supreme. Contact:

The country’s (and indeed the world’s) love of Big Macs, finger-lickin’ chicken, fries and shakes ‘to go’ hasn’t waned despite raised public awareness of health and nutrition. 121 121

29/09/2014 17:08


What's the Damage? Why DIY Recruitment Could Cost You Time, Money & Your USP


ast year Richard Branson wrote, in his LinkedIn piece How I Hire: “There is nothing more important for a business than hiring the right team.” And yet, according to a recent YouGov poll over half of SMEs believe their recruitment methods are not fit for purpose. Virgin Atlantic’s Unique Selling Point (USP) is service rather than price. And according to their website: ”We have high standards and to be honest it can be hard to get a job here. We all take pride in recruiting people that are right for the job and people who can really deliver what we’re looking for.” It’s easy to forget, of course, that Branson set up his first commercial venture with a £300 loan from his mother; before starting a mail-order record business called ‘Virgin’, chosen because the early team knew little about business. Branson knows a lot about recruitment from an SME perspective. And yet, many SMEs are convinced it is too costly and time consuming to find quality candidates. According to a study conducted by Oxford Economics earlier this year, the average logistical cost of recruiting for the SME can cost over £5,000, looking something like this: Advertising: £600 - although only half of the smallest firms said they advertised vacancies, compared to over 90% of big businesses. Temporary Cover: Just under £1,875 per worker (except many SMEs make do and share the love, we mean, work). HR Tasks: A couple of days costing from £832 upwards - although it’s

Your Hidden Recruitment Cost £5,000 £4,500 £4,000


£3,500 £3,000 £832

£2,500 £2,000






£500 £0 Training

questionable whether many SMEs have a dedicated HR officer at all; with current admin staff stepping into this role at the expense of their other duties. Interviews: £720 per worker replaced - based on 2 senior bods preparing, conducting and reviewing. Not to mention assessments, like: psychometric profiling or literacy and numerical testing. Induction and Training: £500 upwards - although not a direct recruitment cost, has a big impact on initial outgoings, as well as lower productivity expected from the new staff member and their trainers. Interestingly less than a third of SMEs use agencies compared to over 90% of big business - often preferring to recruit through personal networks. But with 1 in 5 recruits leaving within 6 months, for many businesses the cost of replacing a worker can be doubled, to £6,000, within a year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. FROM WHIRLPOOL TO TALENT POOL As a family business, running for nearly 50 years, Angel Human Resources understands the benefits of recruiting through personal networks. But our success lies in understanding that our employees are our USP. Knowing a person is right for the role is more important than knowing them personally, so we cast our recruitment net far and wide to harness the best industry talent. And with the CIPD reporting that 82% of employers find it difficult to fill some posts, a smarter way to recruit includes having a talent pool on tap - reducing your


In-house Recruitment Advertising


Outsourced Recruitment HR Tasks

Temporary Cover

Agency Services

recruitment gaps both in time and cost. At Angel we have a little black book of connections we can let you in on collected over our years in the business! GO WITH THE FLOW It may seem counterintuitive to outsource your recruitment if you’re watching the pennies, but as we’ve demonstrated long-term, you’ll be saving yourself time and money of course, but also the stress which often accompanies filling a role efficiently. You put out an ad, and maybe it succeeds in attracting a number of applications. In fact you may find yourself or your administrator swamped with CVs that’ll take hours to process. And then you’ve got to plan the interviews and assessment tasks, implement the interviews, invite candidates back a second time, perhaps. And all this comes at the expense of not being able to concentrate on what you do best run your business. Yes, your new recruit is vitally important, but if that’s the case, then perhaps it’s time to delegate your recruitment practices to the professionals - at Angel HR we have a 98% retention rate, we know our job, we can help you do yours. Added to which we offer a single fixed fee and a no placement no pay guarantee - so there’s nothing to lose! Call us ASAP to find out how our USPs can help you deliver yours on 0207 940 2015!

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25/09/2014 10:41

ADVICE The sales doctor

The sales DOCTOR Sales Doctor, Tony Morris, gives advice on how to stop sales staff from giving up once they meet their sales cap Dear Sales Doctor, I have inherited a business with an existing sales team who have always worked to a commission cap. I have found out that they often share sales once their cap has been met so others can meet their targets. How do I change this costly behaviour without disincentivising them?


nfortunately this is a very common practice for sales people and they usually do something called ‘sand bagging’, where, if they know near the end of the month they’ve already hit their sales cap, and therefore won’t earn any commission on any deals they bring in, they will hold deals back and put them through the following month - or even allow other staff to “steal” their sale so that they can meet their target in exchange for returning the favour when they are struggling to meet targets. In my experience, the only way to fix this and continue to motivate and incentivise the staff, is to have an incremental commission structure; this way they achieve great commission for exemplary performance. As an example, let’s say a salesman’s target is £10,000 revenue per month, and they earn 10% capped commission for hitting their target. I would recommend

paying them 8% on any business generated between £5,000 and £9,999. The reason being is in my opinion, they should not be rewarded for failure and doing less than £5,000 per month on a £10,000 target is failing. I would then increase it to 10% commission on £10,000 to £14,999 revenue and make sure they earn 10% on everything, not just the extra. Once they reach £15,000 in a month, they can earn 12% on the full £15,000. This way they are always striving for success, and rather than hit their target and become complacent, or share sales, which is currently happening, they are incentivised to keep selling. When you deliver this change, the motivated and hungry salesperson will be delighted as they can see the incredible opportunity; the ones that respond negatively to it might not be the right fit for your growing business.

Tony Morris is the director of Sales Doctor, a sales training company based in Covent Garden, London. His new book, based on the Sales Doctor series, called “Dear Sales Doctor - the 66 top answers to the sales questions you’re afraid to ask”, is available now from

If you’d like to learn more practical sales nuggets that will give you an unfair advantage over your competition, then please email with the subject line “Selling made easy workshop”. Contact:

NEED A DIAGNOSIS? Send your sales problems to the editor, marked ’FAO the sales doctor’: editor@talk 123 123

29/09/2014 17:34

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30/09/2014 12:24

ADVICE Warwickshire County Council

Work hard, play bard Sackie Somal, who heads up the Invest in Warwickshire team, explains why you should head to Shakespeare's county to achieve business success


s well as being the centre of England, Warwickshire is fast becoming the business centre of choice, with more than 26,000 organisations, including big names such as Jaguar Land Rover calling it home. So what makes Warwickshire such a popular place for businesses - especially start-ups? Sackie Somal explains by extolling the virtues of the county: “Economic growth is a top priority in Warwickshire, and we have a good track record of attracting businesses, nationally and internationally. Last year alone there were 23 foreign direct investments to the county, which created nearly 900 jobs. We work hard to support businesses, which choose to make this area their home, and the County Council, of which our inward investment team is a part, works across the board to ensure the infrastructure is right for a vibrant local economy. Of course, we are very fortunate that we can boast

renowned international brands, such as Jaguar Land Rover, the Royal Shakespeare Company, and Aston Martin, that work with us to put the area on the map. But it’s not just the big

multi-national companies with whom we work. SMEs account for 90% of our local economy. Warwickshire County Council recently won the ‘Best All-Round Small Business Friendliness Award’ as part of the Federation of Small Businesses Local Authority Awards. In Warwickshire, we have an exceptional mix of organisations across key sectors. We are leaders, for example, in advanced

Last year alone there were 23 foreign direct investments to the county, which created nearly 900 jobs

manufacturing and engineering, with companies such as Jaguar Land Rover, Aston Martin and Rolls Royce, which bring with them an extensive supply chain. The town of Leamington Spa, also known as ‘Silicon Spa’, has carved out its place as the UK’s third biggest digital media and gaming cluster, which includes Codemasters and SEGA. The success of these sectors is down to innovation. We are close to two great universities - Coventry and Warwick where you can find Warwick Manufacturing Group and Warwick Business School. Recently, The Times and The Sunday Times Good University of the Year guide, named Warwick as its ‘University of the Year’ and Coventry as ‘Modern University of the Year’. 125 125

29/09/2014 17:30

ADVICE Warwickshire County Council

We have the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Rugby, and MIRA in Nuneaton, which is a centre of excellence for intelligent mobility, creating the future of advanced vehicles. The latest developments at MIRA Technology Park have attracted a number of worldclass companies, and will create 2,000 high quality jobs on a total of 155,000 square metres of research and development facilities’. Meanwhile, other organisations based locally, such as Ricardo and BMW are leading the low-carbon vehicles sector. Getting the right base is critical to success and, as well as being well connected to other parts of the country, Warwickshire hosts a wide range of sites, premises and business parks to suit every business, including County Council-owned business centres

to help new start-ups and growon space. The area has vibrant towns as well as a thriving rural economy, and Stoneleigh Park is home to the Rural Innovation Centre, part of our Rural Growth Network programme. Attracting quality new businesses means being able to

Getting the right base is critical and, as well as being well connected to other parts of the country, Warwickshire hosts a wide range of sites to suit every business

provide a range of conditions - in particular a pool of skills, which match the quality of the companies we are seeking to attract. In recognition of this, we have invested £2 million in schools and the skills agenda, and we run the Apprenticeship Hub, which offers free and impartial information to businesses interested in recruiting apprentices. At Invest in Warwickshire, which is part of Warwickshire County Council’s economic development function, we generate and act upon inward investment enquiries from businesses all over the world, and expansion enquiries from many thriving local companies, including SMEs and start-up businesses. Our team provides all the help that companies need for a successful move, and, during the last five years, we have assisted 2,000 companies with their search for commercial premises, resulting in more than 200 successful relocations.”

GET IN TOUCH To join the other successful businesses that already call Warwickshire home, take advantage of Invest in Warwickshire’s free and confidential services, which include: • Access to our comprehensive commercial property database. • Excellent local intelligence, from demographics to sector analysis. • Introductions to local networks and organisations. • Helping your employees with information about local housing, schooling and leisure opportunities across the county. Get in touch today to discuss your business relocation requirements. Contact: invest

126 October 2014 126

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29/09/2014 12:48

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29/09/2014 12:49

ADVICE Legally speaking

Legally Legally speaking speaking Each month, solicitor, Wright Hassall takes a look at a different dilemma for small businesses from a legal perspective. This month it tackles rehiring after redundancies

Q A A potential danger in taking on staff after redundancy is that you may face a claim for unfair dismissal from previous employees

“I have just made a round of redundancies as there wasn’t enough work, but now an unexpected contract has come in and we need extra staff to fulfil it. Legally, where do I stand on rehiring former staff and new employees?”

You can re-hire former staff and hire new employees if business has picked up, but you need to be careful that your original redundancy process was appropriate and fair. Many businesses are facing a similar scenario as the economy shows signs of strengthening, and it makes sense to re-hire former employees - they understand the business and its culture, and you know what skills they possess.

WAS THE REDUNDANCY GENUINE? Under current legislation, if a business finds itself having to hire staff after making redundancies, it is not obliged to re-hire its previous employees. A potential danger in taking on staff after a redundancy is that you may face a claim for unfair dismissal. If you have followed procedures correctly, this shouldn’t be an issue. A tribunal will accept that you are best placed to make commercial decisions about your business. Where the redundancy is quickly followed by a period of re-hire however, you should be prepared to evidence the need for redundancy with reference to your order book and/or cashflow figures. Equally, you’ll

want to show that you could not anticipate the new contract that necessitated the re-hiring process. Where the redundancy is disputed, tribunals will look for evidence of a redundancy situation being used to mask the real reason for dismissal (discrimination, capability etc.).

RE-HIRING FORMER EMPLOYEES Once you’ve decided that you need to hire and/or re-hire, there is the question of timing. If the upturn in work occurs before the notice of redundancy expires, then you can “rehire” your employee with no dismissal and no break in their continuity of service. Where the employment has already terminated and you are considering re-hire, a period of at least one week between the expiry of the redundancy notice and the start of new employment will sever continuity and a new contract of employment will be required (unless the parties agree to preserve continuity). If there is no break in service, then there is no requirement to make a redundancy payment.

NEW EMPLOYEES Providing that you have followed guidance on making redundancies and your process has been fair, there is nothing to stop you from hiring new staff if you prefer. The main concern in this situation is to avoid giving redundant employees grounds on which to bring unfair dismissal claims.

SUMMARY As long as the process you have followed is fair and transparent, there is no reason why an unfair dismissal claim should succeed against you. Sensitive and correct handling of redundancy is always recommended, and by doing so, you increase your chances of retaining employee loyalty if you find that you need to re-hire them. Contact:

Got a question you want answered by the legal team? Email editor@ talkbusinessmagazine with the subject line “Legal lifeline” 129 129

30/09/2014 10:46

ADVICE Onyx Recruitment

You find, they’ll seek The key to your success is the people you employ - so how do you find them? Ian Hardy, managing director of Onyx Recruitment, explains the value of using a recruitment agency

I If you don’t trust an agency to be entirely transparent with you, then don’t work with them

f you already know several superstars with relevant experience, who are falling over themselves to join your business, then it’s easy, isn’t it? But what if you don’t know where to find people with the experience and, importantly, the attitude or personality that you want? Or what if you have identified the superstar who you are convinced would help you triple your profits, but they are not interested in joining you?

SO YOU’RE GOING TO TELL ME TO USE A RECRUITMENT AGENCY, ARE YOU? Possibly, but not necessarily. It’s amazing these days how you can reach out to a wider audience than ever before, through social media and job sites. So, depending on your network, how specialised the role is and, importantly, how much time you can allocate to the search, you may identify and employ your new superstar quickly and painlessly without any help from anyone.

SO WHY WOULD I USE A RECRUITMENT AGENCY THEN? Two words; outsourcing and expertise. It’s not right for every business all the time, but just look at the number of rapidly

growing outsourcing companies there are today, such as Capita and Serco, along with many smaller ones. Business owners have recognised that their time is most efficiently used by concentrating on their core business. When you recruit, it is easy to underestimate how long it can take and how frustrating it can be. So, rather than do it all yourself, you may decide your time is better spent on looking after your clients, and appoint someone externally, who specialises in recruitment as their profession, to run the exercise for you.

MY BUSINESS IS SMALL, AND I WORRY THAT THE BEST CANDIDATES MAY WANT A MORE ESTABLISHED ENVIRONMENT. HOW WOULD WORKING WITH AN AGENCY HELP ME TO ATTRACT THESE PEOPLE? The agency you work with is representing your company, your brand, and you as an individual, so it is imperative you only appoint one you are convinced will do this to your complete satisfaction. Assuming this to be the case, the consultant then acts as a broker, looking after the interests of both client and candidate, and ensuring a positive and successful

outcome for both parties. This process starts with the consultant understanding exactly what it is you are looking for, and why, and continues with the consultant communicating your vision to candidates. Importantly, the consultant should also be giving you support and advice about the way you and your company become a compelling proposition that the candidate can’t refuse if you offer them the job. This requires an article of its own, but is all to do with engaging with the candidate through inspiring them, selling them your vision, explaining how it will be executed, what authority they would be given to achieve these goals, and making them feel valued.

SO HOW DO I CHOOSE A RECRUITMENT AGENCY TO WORK WITH? Get recommendations. You must know people who have used agencies, and you probably go to networking meetings where you can ask about your peers’ experiences.

SHOULD I USE AN AGENCY THAT SPECIALISES IN MY SECTOR OR IN THE TYPE OF STAFF I WANT TO HIRE? Yes! If you are going to pay a fee to an agency, apart from the argument that it will save you

130 October 2014 130

29/09/2014 17:36

ADVICE Onyx Recruitment

When you recruit, it’s easy to underestimate how long it can take and how frustrating it can be. Rather than do it all yourself, you may decide to appoint someone externally

time, the other important factor mentioned was that it gave you access to experts. Therefore, only work with an agency you are convinced understands you, your business, and one that has a proven track record of finding people with the type of skills you are looking for.

WHAT FEES SHOULD I PAY, AND DO I HAVE TO PAY UP FRONT? Unless you are recruiting a very highly paid executive position on a “retained” basis, you would normally only pay a recruitment fee when the candidate the agency introduces starts their new job with you. This is called recruiting on a “contingency” or “success-only” basis. Most specialist agencies have standard fees of 20% - 25% of the salary for the role being recruited. In reality, you will end up paying anywhere between 15% and 22% depending on a number of factors, including the level of the opportunity, how difficult the agency thinks it will be to provide you with the solution you are after, and also your negotiating skills. However, remember that, if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys, and if the agency is not 100% committed to finding you the best candidates (rather than placing them with your competitors), then that wonderfully low fee you have negotiated is counterproductive.

HOW CAN I BE SURE THE AGENCY IS GETTING ME THE BEST CANDIDATES? The agency would be pretty stupid if they weren’t doing everything in their powers to put the best candidates in front of you - They don’t get your money until they have introduced a candidate you are happy with after all! If you don’t trust them to be entirely transparent with you about both their ability to source the type of individual you are looking for, and how the process is going, then don’t work with them. You should look at them as a trusted advisor and partner in the process, and if you don’t feel confident in them, then walk away. There are plenty of recruiters out there who want to give you a professional and positive experience when you work with them. Contact: 131 131

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23/09/2014 15:47

MARKETING Trading across borders

??!! No comprende?


or e-commerce retailers, selling internationally offers massive potential for increasing brand awareness and online sales, but it also comes with its own set of challenges. These challenges cover a whole host of areas, including language translations, price conversions and legislation. The new UK Consumer Contracts Regulations, which have recently been implemented for distance sellers, mean that online retailers now have to offer a minimum 14-day returns policy, as opposed to the previous seven-day minimum. This new legislation is just one example, which demonstrates the importance of sellers being up to date with developments to seller regulations. Alongside changing returns policies, it is vital for sellers to be aware of international delivery costs and delivery lead times. International delivery charges can be a minefield; they can have a serious impact on sales and can contribute to drop carts. If costs are too

Robert Horne, account manager of e-commerce company, ICO3, discusses the intricacies of trading across borders high, retailers risk putting their customers off, but if costs aren’t high enough, the retailer will wipe out profit margins, making their business unsustainable. Looking at delivery options to countries that are further afield, America is one country which offers excellent opportunities for online retailers with, according to, an estimated 190 million customers - three times the population of the UK - ordering online. US delivery costs are often cheaper than standard non-European postage rates, and for many retailers, the US is a fantastic opportunity not to be missed.

LANGUAGE BARRIERS AND TRANSLATIONS Possibly the most obvious problem with international sales is the language barrier. Translations of products can

be costly and therefore can cause difficulty for businesses in terms of setting up international markets. Sourcing a translator or a company that can offer multiple translations, would mean businesses targeting Europe can sell through the likes of Amazon France, Germany, Italy and Spain, much more easily. Before recent changes, European bank accounts were required for Amazon, which, along with translations, created problems for international selling. These banking restrictions have however been recently removed on Amazon Italy and Spain, which now means retailers can sell in any of these marketplaces and only need one registered bank account. In comparison to Amazon, eBay - another popular international marketplace - is a different beast entirely, requiring

New UK Consumer Contracts Regulations mean that online retailers now have to offer a minimum 14-day returns policy, as opposed to the previous seven-day minimum 135 135

29/09/2014 17:44

MARKETING Trading across borders

All sellers should anticipate changes in legislation, and be aware that each country will have its own laws relating to selling products, particularly when it comes to describing an item

more visible elements to be translated, including item specifics and descriptions, as well as having a vastly different category structure in each marketplace.

STOCK CONTROL AND PRICING Once a seller has established themselves in various international marketplaces, there is then the challenge of currency conversion. The more marketplaces a seller is trading in, the more listings there are to keep both pricing and stock up to date, and in line with fluctuating exchange rates. If a business is updating this manually, it can be a time consuming exercise, and with exchange rates constantly fluctuating, this can affect profits if not closely monitored. In my experience, the best way to combat these issues is to successfully link integrations with specially developed software in order for all stock listings, both UK and international listings, to be updated automatically.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS When dealing with international sales, it’s important to set realistic expectations as different countries have differing ideas on how long a delivery should take. Making delivery options clear and concise on the delivery policy, showing how long it will take and where it’s being shipped from, are imperative to avoid miscommunication. This is especially important on third party marketplaces like eBay and Amazon, where people’s ratings can directly impact on your sales. Along the same lines, more time needs to be given to international customers for returning an item to take into account the time it takes for the item to be received internationally. It’s important to outline who will pay the return postage, and the cost of replacing an exchanged item needs to be considered when deciding whether to sell it internationally or not. Postal theft can be an issue in

some countries, and it may be that the seller needs to either account for a percentage being lost, or send all orders via a recorded delivery method. The balance is whether the additional cost of a more secure delivery method will reduce international sales.

LEGAL IMPLICATIONS On a legal note, all sellers should anticipate changes in legislation and be aware that each country will have its own laws relating to selling products, particularly when it comes to describing an item. For example, the US has different rules to the UK about nine-carat gold, which can prevent a retailer from selling items labelled as gold, as the US will only class gold as being 10 carats or higher. Researching legal classifications and import regulations surrounding any product ranges, especially on items including alcohol, jewellery and other brands, is essential for anyone whose products will cross foreign borders. Another area where extra due diligence is required is in the food and drinks

market. Retailers that sell food and perishable goods need to be aware of any restrictions on these goods when entering foreign borders - particularly in Australia - as many food, agricultural and plant products are prohibited. It’s also wise to be aware of exporting goods to a country where the goods originate from, as many countries are protective over their own native produce. This is often the case with vodka and whiskey production, and many other items where a country is known as the original producer. Overall, most of the barriers to selling internationally can be overcome with some initial research and planning, in much the same way that selling nationwide can be overcome. There’s support and advice out there for sourcing translations and plenty of platforms to sell through for any size of business. Contact:

136 October 2014 136

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23/09/2014 17:36 15:17 23/07/2014

ADVICE Five common business diseases

Sick as a start-up


orking in the branding world for 15 years, we’ve seen our fair share of car crash companies and businesses simply wishing to grow. From global leaders to start-ups, we’ve worked with them all. And during that time, there seems to be a common theme; what we call the five common business diseases. While symptoms can vary, most companies we have come across (including ourselves) have suffered from one or more of them at one time or another. So what are the diseases, and how can we cure them?

THE “WE CAN WORK WITH ANYONE” DISORDER Symptoms: Over time, the business has changed its core make up, adding more services or products to its offering, leading to confusion about who it really is. There is mixed, if any, sales messaging, other than ‘we sell

Latitude Solutions has identified the five most common business diseases that are infecting companies of all shapes and sizes. MD, Cliff Findlay diagnoses the conditions and reveals the remedies to alleviate their symptoms everything and want to attract anyone and everyone’, a huge pipeline, few sales, and a lot of free work undertaken. It wins new business by discounting prices, sheer luck, or because someone likes them. Early signs: Everyone is very busy, yet there is never a huge profit. There may be a set price list but it’s not enforced as everyone discounts to get business. Underlying cause: Complete loss of vision and focus. If left untreated: Slow and painful death. Treatment: A complete refocus of the business’ core products and/or services is required. Identify the most profitable projects or clients, and focus on the services/products they

require. Establish processes to ensure employees follow the new directive.


Symptoms: They can’t spot a potentially good client from a bad one, go for any project regardless of how small it may be, and discount prices to get work. They often do extra work for free on the premise of future work. Early signs: Clients aren’t paying on time and are rude or demanding. Projects often run late and profit margins slip because clients are allowed to change their minds, resulting in costly mistakes and underperforming staff. Underlying cause: Desperation, fear, and denial.

Inhale, exhale, and repeat out loud: “We are delusional and need help!” Honesty is vital to survive 139 139

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ADVICE Five common business diseases


Symptoms: They won’t do anything someone else isn’t doing. They do their best with the resources available, but tend to lose big opportunities to bigger competitors, and small opportunities to smaller ones. They’re often found giving away free advice to potential clients, and they suffer from long, protracted sales processes. Early signs: You’ll often hear people saying; “They want us to sharpen our pencil/they can get it cheaper down the road.” They do the same as they have always done, with worse and worse results. The odd win means they think the process is still working. Underlying cause: No leadership. If left untreated: Stagnation. Treatment: A complete refocus of sales structures and key messaging is needed. A change in mindset, and serious leadership is required right from the top too. Understand that the market doesn’t dictate how your business operates or what it charges - you do.


Companies are the same as human beings. They suffer from ailments because of age, growth or poor behavioural patterns

If left untreated: Loss of profit, high employee turnover and exhaustion. Treatment: Learn to say no and be firm on costs with new clients from the beginning. Be clear on profit margins, and ensure your sales team works to a clear pricing structure. Remember, not all business is good business, and it’s your choice who you work with. Ensure core management and sales teams are aware of the financial impact ‘bad’ clients or projects have on the business.

Symptoms: The manager or director is always keeping busy doing things that aren’t vital, and maintaining complete control of every minor aspect, rather than delegating. They constantly work ‘in’ the business as an employee, rather than ‘on’ it as a manager/ director, and can often be found working late or at weekends. They’re constantly on the phone or checking emails - even when on holiday. Early signs: The owner or MD prefers to be doing work or dealing with clients rather than dealing with managerial tasks. If they invest in the business, they always go for the cheapest supplier, only to then complain about mediocre service or results. Underlying cause: Procrastination, lack of drive, no clear vision for the business as a whole.

If left untreated: More of the same. Treatment: A new company vision is urgently required to stimulate growth. They need to identify their comfort zones, and summon the strength to challenge them. Business is not about getting their emotional needs met, but going to the bank.


Symptoms: They often try the same marketing techniques over again, and achieve spasmodic results. There’s no clear message or product differentiators, and lots of meetings to discuss how to change things, but they never do. They also blame the competition if they lose business. Early signs: You’ll often hear people saying: “We’re really friendly - we win all our clients through referral. They love us.” Most new business comes through referrals or via existing clients too, not through pitches or other marketing initiatives. Underlying cause: Madness. If left untreated: Overdraft, debt or bankruptcy. A slow, chaoticgrowth or lifestyle business is the best scenario. Treatment: Inhale, exhale and repeat: “We are delusional and need help!” Honesty is vital to survive. You aren’t different from your competitor unless you can create a structure, process or offering that is. Get professional help! Companies are the same as human beings. They suffer from ailments because of age, growth or poor behavioural patterns. They aren’t necessarily any one person’s fault, and can get worse over time if left untreated. Sometimes they suffer from multiple diseases at the same time. The good news is that, for every business disease there is a cure. As with most problems, the sooner they are diagnosed and dealt with, the easier they are to fix. Contact:

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ADVICE S&A Coaching

Don’t fake it S&A Coaching’s Susanna Statton takes a look at trust and how you can earn it before you’ve delivered

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ADVICE S&A Coaching


t’s received wisdom that people don’t buy products as much as they buy from people. We purchase from people we like. More importantly, we purchase from people we trust. So looking after your existing customers, and keeping the relationship with past customers open is crucial. But what do you do when you’re engaging a new customer who’s never heard of you before? How do you build trust? Here is my quick five-point plan for being able to build trust with new customers quickly:

AUTHENTICITY AND PASSION Authenticity and passion encompass a lot. Would you do business with you? Would you buy your product or use your service? Why? If you’re not passionate about your offering, selling it will be hard. I don’t sell notebooks, but I could. As a writer, I have a strange excitement that comes over me when I see a new notebook. The possibility of the unwritten and the as yet uncreated waiting for my ideas to bring things to life makes me want to pick up the notebook and open it. Looking at the virgin sheets of paper, I feel like a child looking out of a window at the first fall of snow waiting for me to come and play. You may or may not be with me here, but if you are someone who sees a notebook as more than just paper for writing lists on stuck together somehow, you’d probably buy a notebook from me. I’d never sell paper clips. They bore me. Or if I did, I’d have to sell novelty paperclips that complemented my notebook! If you don’t enjoy selling what you’re selling, you won’t engender trust. It’s difficult to fake it no matter how good an actor you may be. The customer will see through it. So sell what you love and sell why you love it. Bring your own personal values to the fore. You don’t have to hide them. Those who don’t agree with you may choose to pass by, but they’ll trust what you say and they’ll know your brand. Those who resonate with your values will be attracted

to you like a magnet. So, find yourself in your offering and then be yourself - it’s a recipe for success.


What do you do when you’re engaging a new customer who has never heard of you before? How do you build trust?”

Ultimately, you need to be someone of your word. A customer receiving poor service will tell people, and the word will spread like a virus

This is the service bit. How much do you really care about your potential customers, their lives, and the problems they’re trying to solve? How much do you want to solve their problems for them? How important is it to you that your offering can help them? The temptation to look for the opportunity to be the solution to just any potential problem can cause the over-enthusiastic sales person to jump in too quickly with the sales pitch. Listening deeply, with curiosity, and asking lots of broad, open questions will help potential customers to talk through their issues, and help them decide what they want. Once you’ve honestly been the one who’s helped them establish that clarity, and you’re sure your product or service is the answer, ask a few more specific questions that you might even already know the answer to. One way or another you now have the language the customer uses to describe their own problem, and you can use it. At this stage, if your product or service is the answer, it will be obvious to the customer as soon as you make your offer. By the time you’re telling them what your product or service does, they already know if they want you, and they have built a great rapport with you. They will walk away feeling like you’re their business partner and you really understand their business. If you use the language they used themselves, that rapport is only enhanced. And even if your offering isn’t the solution for them, they will love you anyway and they might still be back.

PERSONALISE Whether you’re the managing director of the company, or just answer the phones, personalisation goes a long way toward building trust and rapport. You can

personalise just by using someone’s name the way they like it. Recently I received an invite to a conference. I didn’t plan to go this year. I received a call from its sales desk - still I said I wasn’t going. When I got an email direct from the CEO of the company running the conference that said, “Susanna, really enjoyed meeting you last year and you’ll be missed this year if you don’t come” - well, I couldn’t help myself, could I? I booked. The same is true if someone feels they’re getting something different and unique to them - it’s personal and it’s special.

TESTIMONIAL AND FEEDBACK There is nothing like the testimonials of previous clients singing your praises. They know like-minded people: your potential customers. They are the generators of your strongest leads. When you start out, take the opportunity to give these people discounts for honest, valuable feedback. The negatives can inform improvement. Help them feel like they’re helping you design your service. They feel a sense of loyalty. The positives can sell your service. And why not tell all your customers that you take the positives and the negatives, and use them to continually strive to be the best. Another opportunity to gain their trust. Isn’t it strange how being asked for feedback immediately draws your attention to good service, and makes poor service more forgivable?

DELIVER Ultimately, you need to be someone of your word. A customer or client receiving poor service and left feeling unsatisfied will tell people, and the word will spread like a virus. A job well done may get talked about slightly less, but when someone’s looking for your service, they’ll ask your clients about the service level, and that’s when your customers will sell you. So aim to under-promise and over-deliver.

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OPINION He said/she said

He said / she said This month the entrepreneurs are tweeting about Scotland, sharks and speeches. Opinions (and spelling mistakes) are all their own Karren Brady @karren_brady Extraordinarily poor speech by Ed Balls No plan for the economy. if he ever gets to run our finances our country will be in serious trouble First lady of football and Apprentice star, Karren Brady is less than impressed with the Shadow Chancellor’s speech at the Labour Party conference well she always was a blue!

Duncan Bannatyne @DuncanBannatyne Come On No voters & Yes voters Be friends, remember we are all Scottish & we all love each other, The enemy is not in George Square x

Alex Salmond @AlexSalmond Let’s not dwell on the distance we’ve fallen short let us dwell on the distance we have travelled Defeated SNP Minister and leader of the “Yes” campaign takes a look at the silver lining of the independence vote.

Katie Price @MissKatiePrice I’m taking part in @StarService for #StandUpToCancer. YOU!! can book ME or any other star to do ANYTHING you want:

Scotsman, Bannatyne asks his fellow countrymen and women to move forward together following the Scottish independence vote.

Businesswoman, reality star, and mother, Katie Price offers up her services for Stand Up To Cancer. Great cause, but we can’t see where ANYTHING could possibly go wrong here... (We’re looking at you, boys!)

Richard Branson @richardbranson

John Caudwell @johndcaudwell

Great news from Western Australia, where the shark cull is to be halted The Virgin entrepreneur and billionaire is also a leading humanitarian, and is delighted about the news of these majestic sea creatures being spared.

I am sickened and saddened for nearly 6000 wonderful employees who made @ Phones4u into a great business. #ruthlessvodafone #ruthlessEE Phones 4 U founder, John Caudwell expresses his disappointment at the fiasco that has seen the company go into administration. Another sad day for the high street.

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